Updated 07/21/2012 12:42 PM
Cyclists from across NC unite for charity ride
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ASHEBORO, NC—Hundreds of cyclists from across the state are uniting for a Christmas in July bike ride. Operation
Operation Red Sleigh is a nonprofit organization that is hosting a charity cycling event which raises money to buy Christmas presents for children in need. Bike chains replace sleigh bells and a soldier sits in for Santa. Army Spc. Joshua Craven is preparing to hand cycle 27 miles so underprivileged children have a cheerful Christmas.
"I was raised where my mom was single for a while and we kind of needed help so it kind of feels good to give back to people who need help. It's a good feeling," said Craven
For Craven and his wife Holly, the event has a double meaning. In 2010, he was hit by a roadside bomb while deployed.
"The blast penetrated the door, it hit both of my legs. Then about 10 seconds later, I passed out," said Craven.
Craven did not have a pulse for five minutes but his comrades never lost hope and brought him back to life.
"I remember laying on the ground, my squad leader was holding me, telling be everything was going to be OK," said Craven.
It would be days before he learned that he lost one leg but with his wife at his side, Craven's determination never wavered. The road to recovery has been rough but the race allows him to show everyone how far he has come.
"I feel like if I didn't have the support of my community, family and friends, I might not be in this situation. I might not have pushed hard in my recovery to get where I am now," said Craven.
Cyclists can ride up to 74 miles and when the going gets tough, organizers remind riders that they are the ones pulling the sleigh.
"It's so rewarding in December when we see a smile on a child's face that wasn't able to get much and we're able to provide things they need as well as things they want," said Zach Ausband, of Operation Red Sleigh.
The event is hailed as one of the safest cycling rides in the state. State troopers, local law enforcement officers and other emergency responders line the route and intersections are swept to remove debris which could be hazardous for riders.
Craven says one organization that is near and dear to his heart is the Wounded Warrior Project. For more information on how you can help wounded veterans, visit the Wounded Warrior website.
Operation Red Sleigh is also hosting a motorcycle ride Saturday, October 13. For more information on Operation Red Sleigh, visit their website.