Afghanistan Veteran Amputee Inspires Others Through Adversity

Ride 2 Recovery


When U.S. Army veteran Juan Carlos Hernandez lost part of his right leg during combat in Afghanistan, he never imagined that he would be able bike 360 miles in 6 days much less walk.

“My first time walking without crutches it was painful but something I got used to,” said Hernandez, who now lives in Woodland Hills, Calif. He “took it slow and did everything my doctors asked,” he said. “Slowly, I started doing more activities, jogging and then I started riding a bike.”

During his rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid – Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, a therapist noticed he became interested in cycling.

“She mentioned ‘Ride 2 Recovery’ and she recommended I get involved with the program,” he recalled. They provided him with a bike but using his prosthetic leg proved difficult. “Keeping the prosthetic leg on the pedal was the hardest because I didn’t have any control from the knee below. I fell a couple of times but I was able to manage,” Hernandez said. 

It was through his physical therapist that Hernandez discovered Ride 2 Recovery – a nonprofit organization that supports cycling programs for injured veterans designed to help our nation’s troops overcome the many challenges that they face. The program inspired him to come join Ride 2 Recovery as a Rider Assistant, which allows him to mentor and aid other veterans on their road to recover:

Being able to give back to other guys who have sacrifice so much, being able to go to the rides and meet everybody and some way help them in their rehabilitation and get back into the fight is the highlight for my life at this moment.

 According to their website, Ride 2 Recovery aims:

  • To improve the health and wellness of injured veterans by providing a life changing experience that can impact their lives forever.

  • R2R supports Spinning® Recovery Labs and outdoor cycling programs at Military and VA locations around the U.S. to help injured veterans overcome obstacles they face. Cycling is an important part of the recovery and rehabilitation program for two reasons:

  • Cycling is an activity that almost all patients with mental and physical disabilities can participate.

  • Participation in the Ride 2 Recovery Program helps speed up the recovery and rehabilitation process.

    • Ride 2 Recovery provides program events and site locations

    • R2R designs and builds specially adapted bikes to suit injured veterans needs making it possible for almost any warrior to participate in the program, including quad amputees.

It is programs like Ride 2 Recovery designed to help veterans regain their strength and independence after traumatic and devastating injuries that motivate us, at Hillier Ignite, to continue making a difference in the lives of those who fight to protect our freedom and rights. Visit Ride 2 Recovery’s website for more information on how you can help!

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