PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Despite the rain, dozens of people came together for the annual Wounded Warriors Alive Ride in Pinellas County Wednesday morning.
“The amount of supporters that came out today is overwhelming,” said Marine veteran and organizer Mike DeLancey.
DeLancey served in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2006, while in Iraq, he was paralyzed by a shot from a sniper. Instead of getting angry or depressed, he used his situation to motivate himself and others. He founded the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch in Pinellas Park, and created several events, like the Alive Ride, to honor U.S. Heroes and help them.
“We have a strong active duty and veteran presence,” he said. “Getting people out, showing them that veterans are around here to help them. We are all still brothers and sisters, and we are not alone.”
DeLancey said it’s very important for veterans and active duty members to know that. That’s why people still showed up at the Alive Ride, even though the ride was canceled due to weather. Most of the people who showed up have a personal connection with the event, like Gold Star Mothers Kathy Dart-Wagner and Holly Ross.
Ross’ daughter, Navy Lt. Reanna Ross, died during a training mission in the Pensacola area, last year. Dart-Wagner’s son, Herman Fred Bolte IV was killed in Iraq in 2003.
“There’s a lot of children that have died for this [country.]”
Delancey’s first deployment was in Afghanistan. He says it was difficult watching the chaos going on there over the last few weeks. He and everyone at the event took time for a moment of silence to honor the U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan and remember the 13 troops who died during a suicide bombing last week.
“It’s a daily struggle, but you have to honor them. you have to honor your children,” said Dart-Wagner.
The Gulf Coast Chapters of the Gold Star Mothers will be reaching out to the Afghan troops when they arrive home.
“We are here to let them know that they can talk to us if they need.”
As for the event Alive Ride event, DeLancey says it seems to rain or storm every year on this day, but he is not changing the date.
“We do this on September first because it’s the day I was injured,” he said. “We call it my alive day.”