'Sea To Shining Sea Riders' Make Pit Stop in Robinson
The group supports injured and disabled veterans from across the country.
Lt. Col. Henry Riley (Ret.) said he was down and out—diagnosed with Esophageal cancer just after returning from his last tour of Iraq.
After battling the disease and retiring from the Navy earlier this year, Riley took up a decidedly unorthodox approach to his recovery: The Florida native bought a bike.
"I was suffering from PMS—'Poor-Me Syndrome,'" said Riley, who was introduced to biking by a caseworker at his North Carolina military base. "So I started biking and at first I couldn't do three miles on it."
Riley and a group of other bikers just like him, military vets with a history of disease or disability, are nearing the completion of a cross-country bike voyage that began in San Francisco and will end later this month in Virginia.
Known as the Sea to Shining Sea Riders, the group of 14 vets began their tour on Memorial Day on the West Coast, winding their way through the country before making a pit stop Monday in Robinson Township.
The cyclists snapped photos at Eat 'n Park, where they took a break for lunch before being escorted down Route 60 by Robinson Township Police. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald greeted them on the city's South Side.
The next stop on the journey is Somerset County, where the group will pay their respects at Shanksville's Flight 93 Memorial before heading down the Eastern Seaboard.
"I've been so inspired by the riders out on the tour and the places I've been able to see," said Riley, who underwent testing before the trip that showed his cancer is no longer metastasizing.
"When I was diagnosed I was given a 10 percent five-year survival rate," he said. "But I'll beat it. If I can do this ride, I can beat anything."
The bikers trek more than 50 miles each day across the country for the tour.
Each of the riders suffers from either a wartime injury or degenerative disease, said Kim Warpinski, of World Team Sports, which organized the ride. State Farm Insurance served as the event's main sponsor.
"The vets are definitely excited to make a stop in Pittsburgh," Warpinski said. "The goal of the trip is to really change the perception of what disability is and what they can do."