September 15, 2011
Wounded Warrior Project
As the Boston Soldier Ride bike race was getting ready to begin, the crowd erupted in cheers as dozens of injured war veterans were escorted to the starting line. Construction management student Craig Michaud, BCMT ’11, sat back on his seat, taking in the scene and cheered along with the rest of the crowd. Any doubts he had about completing the race were gone.
“[Seeing the soldiers] makes it like I have no excuses,” he said. “If these guys are going to do it after getting wounded, and going pretty quickly too, then I can do it.”
Michaud was one of more than 500 participants in this year’s Boston Soldier Ride, held Saturday, August 27. The charity race supports the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that strives to recognize and offer services to soldiers injured in combat.
Michaud found out about the race after he wore a commemorative shirt from a West Point Military Academy charity road race to Professor Joseph Schellings’ labor relations class. Schellings, an army veteran who is actively involved with Wounded Warrior, asked Michaud about his shirt, and then offered to sponsor him. Michaud was immediately on board. So much so, in fact, that when he realized he didn’t have a way to get to the race’s starting line in Concord, he didn’t think twice about biking the 20 miles there and back just so he could participate.
On race day, the wounded soldiers led the race for the first two miles, and then pulled over so the other participants could begin the 45-mile ride. The key to sustaining the will power to keep riding for awhile, Michaud said, was finding others just as motivated as he was so he wouldn’t be tempted to slow down.
Following the race, Michaud was able to meet army veteran Anthony Rad, a wounded soldier paralyzed from the chest down. Talking with Rad, Michaud said, helped him realize that injury doesn’t have to mean an end to a thirst for activity and competition. “When I asked him how the race was, he said it was too slow for him, since they all had to ride together. He might be in a wheelchair, but he still has a competitive side.”
At some point, Michaud said he wants to move out to California, the supposed “motherland” of bike racing, to go pro. He’s been in a lot of races, but charity rides are his favorite. Because—in the end—there is payoff for everyone.
- Dennis Nealon