Soldier Ride crosses the North Fork

09/18/2010 12:00 AM |

Riders begin their journey at Mitchell Park in Greenport on
Saturday morning. (See video below.)

The first-ever North Fork Soldier Ride left Mitchell Park in Greenport
just after 9:30 a.m. Saturday with at least 200 riders, who joined the
event in support of 15 wounded soldiers riding point with the group as
they traversed the North Fork, holding memorial events in each town as
they passed.
Ride, created by Chris Carney and Nick Kraus, a co-owner of The Stephen
Talkhouse in Amagansett, it gives soldiers with war wounds a chance to
challenge themselves physically. Members of the public are invited to
join the rides in solidarity with the soldiers.
Saturday morning,
veterans, parents whose sons or daughters are serving in the armed
forces, and local fire departments were in abundance among the riders.
a wounded vet myself, so this event has a soft spot in my heart,” John
Beck of Westhampton Beach, who planned to ride 28 miles, said at the
race start.
Southold Fire Department member Patty Mellas was riding
to Mattituck and back with a group of 19 fellow volunteers. She said
that Dennis O’Donnell, a Laurel resident who organized the North Fork
ride, came to her fire house to ask for help. The fire department
agreed to serve as a water stop along the route and will offer the
soldiers a steak dinner tonight.
Participants in the event pay a
registration fee that supports The Wounded Warrior Project, Soldier
Ride’s parent organization, which provides a wide range of services for
returning soldiers. The riders also have the option of setting higher
fund-raising goals.
Though the final number for funds raised has yet
to be tallied, at the start of the ride Mr. O’Donnell thanked the
highest fundraiser, Peter Sabat, who had raised $2,400 in the weeks
leading up to the event.
He was joined by several public
officials, including U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, who thanked the veterans for
taking Congress to task for the shoddy care initially received by
veterans who returned from Iraq.
“You really have shown us the way,” he said.
Kraus, one of the ride’s founders, reminded riders that “three guys in
a bar in Amagansett sharing a beer started this. Look what you can do.”
was in the Stephen Talkhouse a few times in my youth and I don’t think
anything good came out of the ideas I had there,” said Southold Town
Supervisor Scott Russell. “I’m humbled to be here. It really makes me
proud of the community.”
“We are undyingly proud of you,” Greenport
Mayor David Nyce told the veterans. “No words or tokens can express our
gratitude for what you’ve done. In sailing we have a saying, we wish
you fair winds and following seas. That doesn’t quite work here, but I
wish you flat roads and no headwinds.”