- Cloudy skies and the threat of rain didn't stop droves of cyclists from the East End and beyond from coming out to Greenport's Mitchell Park Saturday morning, June 25, 2011, in support of Wounded Warrior Project
's 2nd Annual North Fork Soldier Ride
Lieutenant Theinert's mother, Chrystyna Kestler. (Nicole A. Flotteron)
Nearly 200 cyclists participated in the 30-mile ride, which stretched across the North Fork and through the Villages of Greenport, Southold, Cutchogue and Mattituck, while walkers tackled a 5K around the Village of Greenport. With donations still pouring in, rough estimates indicate that the North Fork Soldier Ride raised $30,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
This year, the ride was dedicated to the memory of fallen Shelter Island hero U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert
, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan in June of last year. Theinert's mother, Chrystyna Kestler
, father, James Theinert
, and many other family members and friends participated in the ride.
"After Joe was killed, his dad said 'We don't want anybody to ever forget.' The North Fork, Sag Harbor and Shelter Island have done so much to remember our Joe. I'd like to thank everyone here; I'd like to thank the Wounded Warriors for being here today and riding. It's all about them," said Kestler during the opening ceremonies.
During the opening ceremony, friends and family members of the Theinert family, known as "Joey's Girls" performed the National Anthem, GP Lane
recited a poem by Edgar Guest
, and Robert Bruey
performed an original song which he calls "Joey's song."
A little boy waves the flag on his father's shoulders. (Nicole A. Flotteron)
The ride took off just before 10 a.m., led by a Southold Town police escort, as well as escort from the American Legion
Riders Post 924 of Hampton Bays. Leading the way for the cyclists, were six wounded warriors who served in the wars in Iraq
Boy Scouts of America Troop 39 of Mattituck were stationed in the villages where they handed out American flags to spectators and cheered on the riders. Many local volunteer fire departments participated in the ride as well, including East Marion, Southold, Cutchogue, and Mattituck.
Wounded Warrior Project is the nation's largest and most active supporter of both active duty and veteran wounded warriors from all branches of the Armed Forces. Soldier Ride, which has become one of WWP's most successful national fundraisers, was founded out of the Stephen Talkhouse
night club in Amagansett by East Hampton Physical Therapist Chris Carney
, Stephen Talkhouse owner Peter Honerkamp
and Stephen Talkhouse employee Nick Kraus
"They are a great example of what citizens can do," said Opening Ceremony MC Dennis O'Donnell
. WWP's Soldier Ride will take place in the Hamptons on July 23, 2011.
Members of the Wounded Warrior Team Red, White and Bullish. (Nicole A. Flotteron)
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