Back in 2011, the United States Armed Forces hosted the Michigan State basketball team as they battled the University of North Carolina on top of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, a fully-operational Navy aircraft carrier.
Now, in 2013, the Spartans will have a chance to return the favor.
As part of the United HealthCare Ride 2 Recovery Great Lakes Challenge, over 200 injured service men and women will ride their bicycles from Chicago's Soldier Field to downtown Detroit in an effort to raise awareness and money for many of the injured soldiers returning from foreign wars.
The six-day, 375-mile trip will have a number of overnight stops along the way in cities such as Michigan City, South Haven, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and Novi, but only one college campus will play host to the entire team of bicyclists. Hundreds of weary travelers will be staying at MSU's Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center with 100 rooms and a full dinner provided by the university.
“This is a great program, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to honor those who have sacrificed so much for all of us,” said Kent Cassella, MSU assistant vice president for media communications. “As a ‘military friendly’ school, we’re always looking for ways to better support those who served so selflessly. Thank you to these brave men and women and their supporters.”
Ride 2 Recovery is a program focused on the physical and mental rehabilitation of injured veterans returning from combat overseas and raises awareness and funds through large-scale biking events. President and founder John Wordin told the media that the events not only help to raise money and media attention, but also serve to assist the veterans in a physical sense as well as they focus on their physical and mental recoveries.
“The UnitedHealthcare Challenge Series offers our healing heroes involved in the Project HERO program a way to get back into the game of life,” said Wordin. “Participants are evaluated and coached by the R2R staff to rebuild strength and conditioning, while concurrently healing the effects of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and depression. Cycling is a powerful therapeutic exercise that they can do alone or in groups for the rest of their lives.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.