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Friday, November 16 , 2018, 4:59 pm | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

Orcutt American Legion Feeds Ride 2 Recovery Participants

Program helps wounded warriors regain hope and purpose, organizers say

Wounded veterans stopped for lunch in Old Town Orcutt on Thursday as the Ride 2 Recovery made its way through Santa Barbara County. Click to view larger
Wounded veterans stopped for lunch in Old Town Orcutt on Thursday as the Ride 2 Recovery made its way through Santa Barbara County. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

As one group of bicyclists finished lunch in Old Town Orcutt, the American Legion’s Dennis Maher became emotional while talking about the wounded warriors his group fed again.

Participants in Ride 2 Recovery — a program founded in 2008 to help wounded warriors through cycling while restoring hope and purpose — rolled into northern Santa Barbara County on Thursday, stopping for lunch in Old Town Orcutt.

“Because you look at the kids and how much help they need,” Maher said, choking up with emotion. “I’m sorry. It’s very emotional to me having spent four years in the Marine Corps during Vietnam War.”

Marking its seventh year, Ride 2 Recovery’s California Challenge, a 450-mile route from Palo Alto to West Los Angeles, kicked off Sunday and ends Saturday.

Groups of riders were fed by the Orcutt American Legion Post 56, enjoying sandwiches, fruit and sweets, and a lot of support.

The post’s Ladies Auxiliary, led by Sue Hale, has prepares the food for riders and support staff.

“Her group of ladies, they just go overboard every year,” Maher said.

A large supply of brownies came from Gina’s Piece of Cake, he added. 

“A lot of this couldn’t go on without the merchants,” Maher said, noting widespread support for the effort to feed the riders. 

Post members plus those from the Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of American Legion all share a role in making the lunch occur.

“We have some very, very loyal members that come down here — wouldn’t miss it,” Maher added.

A key goal of the American Legion is to help other veterans, noted Harley Santos, vice commander representing Area 6 of the State American Legion.

“This is one of the ways we go about doing that,” Santos said, adding that events like the Ride 2 Recovery give Legion members a chance to talk with younger veterans recovering from injuries they have received.

After spending the night in Solvang, the cyclists will travel to Ventura on Friday, with a lunch stop at the Santa Barbara Carriage Museum.

“We always encourage folks to come out and support the veterans along the route,” said Matt Rodriguez, a representative for ride sponsor, United Healthcare.

Along the route, riders visited schools where students cheered them on, including at Vandenberg Middle School on Thursday. Lompoc High School's cheerleaders and band greeted riders as they passed by the Lompoc Elks Lodge.

As they departed Orcutt, cyclists were escorted by members of the American Legion Riders along with California Highway Patrol officers. 

“Thank you for support. We appreciate it,” a rider shouted.

“Thank you for lunch everybody,” another said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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