Injured Veterans to Cycle 516 Miles from San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles for 2015 UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge

  • Veterans to ride hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and road bikes
    along California coast from Palo Alto – birthplace of Ride 2 Recovery
    – to Los Angeles
  • Ride 2 Recovery provides cycling rehabilitation programs for
    America’s injured veterans
  • Communities encouraged to gather along the daily routes to
    support and cheer riders

PALO ALTO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–More than 200 injured veterans and their supporters will set off on
Sunday, Oct. 18, on the UnitedHealthcare Ride 2 Recovery
California Challenge
, a seven-day, 516-mile bicycle ride from
the VA Palo Alto Health Care System – the birthplace of Ride 2 Recovery
– to the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.

California Challenge cyclists will begin their journey in Palo Alto,
ride south to Santa Cruz, and then travel the iconic Pacific Coast
Highway along the state’s scenic coastline with overnight stops in
Carmel, San Simeon, Pismo Beach, Solvang and Ventura. The ride will
conclude Saturday, Oct. 24, at the VA West Los Angeles Medical Center.
That afternoon, 95-year-old Tuskegee airman Lt. Col. Robert Friend will
join the cyclists for the last several miles of the ride and across the
finish line at the VA.

The public is encouraged to gather along the daily ride routes or at the
hotels to support the cyclists. To see daily stops and events along the
route, or to sign up for the California Challenge, visit UnitedHealthcare
Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge

Ride 2 Recovery supports physical and psychological rehabilitation
programs for injured veterans, featuring cycling as the core activity.
From indoor spinning training at military installations to multiday,
long-distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans heal through
the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents,
tandems and traditional road bikes.

Navy veteran Leila Raffiee-Shirazi of Menlo Park retired in 2010 with
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She sought treatment at Menlo Park VA’s
PTSD program where a counselor introduced her to Ride 2 Recovery last

“From the moment I jumped on the bike, I was simply happy. I cycled
three times a week while in the PTSD program, and looked forward to our
rides. Cycling became part of my treatment plan,” she said. “Many of us
return stateside after serving, and Ride 2 Recovery has allowed me to
regain that sense of camaraderie that I missed. It provided a support
system of peers who understood what I was going through. I am grateful
to Ride 2 Recovery for giving me my life back, and am excited to
participate in my second UnitedHealthcare California Challenge.”

The service men and women, including Raffiee-Shirazi, have been training
for the California Challenge as a means to build strength and
conditioning, and to help overcome the challenges many veterans face
when returning home from service. Most of the cyclists are introduced to
Ride 2 Recovery from a Warrior Transition Unit/Battalion or Veterans
Affairs facility through Ride 2 Recovery’s Project HERO program.

“In the UnitedHealthcare Challenge Series, about 70 percent of the
participating injured veterans come through our Project HERO program,”
said John Wordin, president and founder, Ride 2 Recovery. “There are 60
Project HERO programs at military bases and VA facilities across the
country. Our goal is to establish 30 regional community Project HERO
programs across the country that would provide a full spectrum of
transitional, reintegration, recovery and rehabilitative services.”

“It is a privilege and honor to support Ride 2 Recovery and its work for
the physical, mental and emotional rehabilitation of the men and women
who sacrificed their health in the service of our country,” said Tom
Wiffler, chief operating officer, UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans.
“As the longest-running sponsor of the Challenge rides, we have
witnessed firsthand the critical difference Ride 2 Recovery has made in
helping veterans in their journey to lifelong health and well-being – a
future they so richly deserve.”

This is the sixth year UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:
UNH) company, is serving as Ride 2 Recovery’s title sponsor, providing
financial, in-kind and volunteer support to help America’s injured

Ride 2 Recovery is one of many ways UnitedHealth Group supports veterans
and their families. In 2012, UnitedHealth Group joined the 100,000 Jobs
Mission, a coalition of major U.S. corporations that share the goal of
hiring 100,000 transitioning service members and military veterans by
2020. UnitedHealth Group partners with a variety of organizations to
help source military and veteran candidates such as the Military Spouse
Employment Partnership, RecruitMilitary and the Wounded Warrior Project.

UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans is the managed care support
contractor for the West Region of the U.S. Defense Department’s TRICARE
program, serving nearly 2.9 million military service members, retirees
and their families in 21 states, including more than 790,000 in

About R2R
Ride 2 Recovery is a
unique mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery program for
veterans. The veterans are able to adapt, improvise and overcome the
issues they face. From outdoor training at military installations to
multi-day, long distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans
heal through the challenge of cycling using custom adapted bicycles,
hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes.

About UnitedHealthcare
is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by
simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and
wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care
providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit
programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees
and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and
contracts directly with more than 850,000 physicians and care
professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide.
UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:
UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more
information, visit UnitedHealthcare at
or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

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Matthew Rodriguez, 714-226-3494
2 Recovery

Sheri Goldberg, 818-888-7091