For dedicated athlete and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) member Sgt Dan Bodden, no distance is too great when it comes to helping wounded veterans.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Assistant Air Controller recently returned from the inaugural Can/Am Veteran’s Challenge, a 1,200km 18-day bicycle ride that took 16 wounded Canadian, American, and Danish military veterans, as well as nine civilian riders, from the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, ON, all the way to Capital Hill in Washington, D.C.
The ride was conceived by non-profit organization World TEAM Sports as a way to show injured veterans, as well as the civilian population, that being injured or disabled doesn’t mean you stop being active.
“The team I was riding with came from all walks of life, all different parts of Canada and the U.S., as well as a few riders from around the world, and they all showed the same fierce spirit,” says Sgt Bodden. “It was a very inspiring experience. They showed me that getting on with your life is as much as part of rehabilitation as any surgery or medicine.”
When it comes to going the distance for wounded veterans Sgt Bodden is no slouch.
Just this past February, he co-founded the Wounded Warriors Run BC and his team ran from Port Hardy to Victoria.
“As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) it’s my duty to aid and support my fellow service men and women any way I can,” he says. “When I heard there was an opening for the Veteran’s Challenge there was no way I would pass it up.”
His dedication went as far as physically helping a fellow cyclist during the Can/Am ride.
During the journey Sgt Bodden rode alongside US Army Master-Seargent (Ret’d) Marina Libro, who was riding a recumbent bicycle. On the steeper, steadier climbs Libro got an extra push with the“barber pole” – a seven foot red-white-and-blue pole, which Sgt Bodden would hold to push Libro ahead of him.
“It was just about being a team. If I ever got tired pushing Libro, someone would come and push me, and someone would come and push them. All of a sudden there are four or five riders in a row helping each other up the hill,” he says. “We really were a team. When you’re riding that far you need people you can depend on.”
As the team made its way through Ontario, New York State, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, Sgt Bodden says the American people came out in droves.
“Once people heard what we were doing it became a thing,” he says. “We drew a crowd everywhere we went and people were very quick to buy us extra food or donate a few dollars to World TEAM Sports. They were all so kind.”
Upon reaching Capitol Hill Sgt Bodden and the team were welcomed to the Canadian Embassy by Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and treated to a sweeping view of the city from the embassy’s top floor.
“It was a really great end to a very inspiring trip,” he says. “I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I’m always glad to lend a helping hand where I can.”
More information on World TEAM Sports and the Can/AM Veteran’s Challenge can be found at canamveterans.org.
Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer
Filed Under: Top Stories
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