The Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride Phoenix returned to the Valley of the Sun in 2014, back to the home of Soldier Ride’s Founding Partner U-Haul!
Weeks before the occasion, Team U-Haul cyclists were hard at work fundraising on behalf of Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride Phoenix, eagerly anticipating what could be done to support the ride and event-filled week.
U-Haul Team Members were given many opportunities to engage the Warriors and, thanks to the efforts of many, U-Haul was proud to announce that Team U-Haul cyclists and U-Haul Team Members raised a record-breaking $210,943 in the Company’s 10th year of supporting the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride.
“Soldier Ride is meant to raise awareness for those who have selflessly given so that we can have our freedom,” Ashleigh Wagner, U-Haul Senior Media and Public Relations Specialist, said.
“I was honored to have the opportunity to ride side by side with these men and women during the 2014 Soldier Ride Phoenix. I feel very fortunate to not only have had the opportunity to be a Team U-Haul cyclist for the past eight years, but also to see the success and growth of the program and the positive effect it’s had on so many lives throughout the years.
“I have met so many men and women with great spirit despite their injuries, and I truly consider it an honor to work with the Wounded Warrior Project and be able to experience Soldier Ride firsthand. I am thrilled to have helped in raising this year’s record-breaking total for Soldier Ride Phoenix.”
The Warriors and Team U-Haul cyclists were excited about the additional day of riding that was added to the Soldier Ride Phoenix schedule. On Oct. 23, Soldier Ride Phoenix and Team U-Haul cyclists took to the streets of Apache Junction for an 18-mile bike ride. That segment served as a great opportunity for Team U-Haul cyclists to get to know the Warriors … and the view of the Superstition Mountains wasn’t bad either!
On Oct. 24, a breakfast was held in honor of the Warriors at U-Haul Corporate Headquarters. U-Haul Team Members from the Towers, Technical Center and Field Operations heard a heart-felt story from Warrior Speak spokesperson Deven Schei, and also heard remarks from U-Haul Executive Vice President Sam Shoen before he officially launched the morning’s 20-mile ride through Phoenix and into Paradise Valley.
The adventures of Soldier Ride Phoenix continued Oct. 25 with a 14-mile ride through Cave Creek. On the third day of cycling, the Warriors and Team U-Haul cyclists were able to truly experience the camaraderie that develops on Soldier Ride. Mark Buford, Marketing Company President of U-Haul Company of Northern Arizona (Co. 858), and members of his team were on site for the second year in a row to greet the riders. They held a banner that stated: “U-Haul Supports Our Veterans and Troops Throughout the World.” Buford also had drinks, healthy snacks and a cake for everyone on Soldier Ride Phoenix to enjoy during and after they finished the morning’s ride.
Later that evening, U-Haul House, the popular Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Paradise Valley, transformed into a festive Polynesian Luau Gala under the stars. U-Haul Team Members, family and friends made a donation to attend this third annual gala hosted by U-Haul in support of the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride Phoenix. It was the best turn out yet! The gala began with a traditional lei greeting with a ukulele player and an official conch shell ceremony to kick off entertainment by Polynesian hula dancers and a fire knife performance.
Toni Jones, U-Haul Director of Social Media, addressed the guests that evening.
“U-Haul Team Members work with Wounded Warrior Project almost every single day throughout the U.S. and it’s really neat to see how Wounded Warrior Project has grown incredibly,” Jones said. “The benefits don’t just help our service members; they also help the family members. It’s a life time of support for families, caregivers, and our veterans, and that’s what is really important.”
Dancing to live music by U-Haul Team Member Matt Dexter’s local rock band Whiskey Tango capped off the evening.
As the Warriors left U-Haul House, they each received a gift as a token of appreciation from U-Haul for their honor, courage and sacrifice in defending our freedom.
THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING SOLDIER RIDE PHOENIX! THESE EVENTS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT YOU! CONGRATULATIONS ON OUR RECORD-SETTING FUNDRAISING EFFORTS IN 2014, AND THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR HELPING US MAKE 2015 EVEN BETTER!
Have you been to a Soldier Ride? Tell us about your experience in the comments.