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"Welcome To Soldier Ride" Screening To Kick-Off Hamptons Soldier Ride Weekend

Sydney A. Braat

Over 50 wounded soldiers will be coming to Soldier Ride for the very first time this year. (Photo: www.facebook.com)

There will be a free showing of Welcome to Soldier Ride, a film by Matthew Hindra and Nicholas Kraus, on Friday, July 15th. The community is encouraged to gather at 8 p.m. on the Amagansett Square to watch this heartfelt and inspiring film that was inspired by the annual Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) Soldier Ride.

The screening will take place just one night before the actual Hamptons Soldier Ride event on Saturday, July 16th.

Kraus is well-known in the Hamptons community for being the long-time promoter and partner at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. He has also been a part of Soldier Ride from the very beginning.

"I have been involved from the start with Soldier Ride," said Kraus. "Aside from mechanics, I've done everything from logistics to events to fundraising to public relations."

Kraus and Hindra hope the community will come out and view Welcome to Soldier Ride to support the ride's participants and to learn about the meaning behind the entire event. "We are screening Welcome to Soldier Ride in the Amagansett Square on Friday, one night ahead of the community ride, to inspire some additional folks to come ride with the warriors the next morning. Soldier Ride started in Amagansett and is now done around the world. We are proud of that and this film tells that story."

Kraus shared that over 50 wounded soldiers will be coming to Soldier Ride for the very first time on the 16th. There is something very special about the small towns within the Hamptons community and he hopes that everyone will show their support and welcome the soldiers with open arms.

Soldier Ride originated in 2004 and is entering its twelfth year. When asked what he hopes for Soldier Ride in 20 years, Kraus remarked, "Wow. 20 years. We never thought this event would go past one ride in 2004, so that's kind of hard to grasp. Again, what started as an idea in a bar in Amagansett at the Stephen Talkhouse has now become 30 rides a year in the states and duplicated by at least a half dozen other countries." Kraus is impressed with the event's success. "It's pretty amazing," he added. "But what I really have always hoped for is that things like the Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier Ride didn't have to exist."

Soldier Ride and Community Walk will begin at Amagansett Farm (551 Montauk Highway, Amagansett). There is a 30 mile and 60 mile Soldier Ride route. The day will begin at 7 a.m. for registration, followed by an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Soldier Ride will begin at 9 a.m. and the Community Walk will begin at 9:15 a.m. The Lap of Heroes in Sag Harbor will commence at 11 a.m. and the day will finish with a community picnic at Amagansett Farm at 12 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring a bicycle, helmet, water bottle and a fun attitude!

Registration for Soldier Ride is $60 (which includes a 2016 Soldier Ride t-shirt, event day festivities, bib number, and lunch) and $35 for participants 12 years and under. The fee for the Community Walk is $35. If you are active duty military, an active duty military family member, a student or would like to start or join a team, email signatureevents@woundedwarriorproject.org to get a promo code for discounted registration.

"Being involved with Soldier Ride has made me a much better (if not still flawed) person, given me purpose," reflected Kraus. "I am always inspired by the dedication of our service members and how they take recovery head on. Working with Matt Hindra on the film [Welcome to Soldier Ride] taught me about patience and really seeing a story for what it can be. I guess one of the major things for me is being involved with something that becomes bigger than yourself. No bigger honor than that."

Proceeds from the events will support Wounded Warrior Project, whose mission is to "raise awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, help injured service members aid and assist each other, and provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members."

For more information about Soldier Ride, call 904-296-7350 or visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

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