The honored guests arrived in Cripple Creek in Lamborghinis, McLarens, Ferraris, Bugattis, Porsches, Ford GTs and Dodge Vipers. Twenty-six wounded veterans were passengers in the inaugural Warrior’s Run Supercar Rally from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek on Sept. 28
The event provided a day of enjoyment for the veterans, who were able to ride in multiple exotic cars to the Big Aspen Happnin’ festival to celebrate the height of the fall foliage season.
The rally, which departed from the Penrose Heritage Museum in Colorado Springs just after 8 a.m., was organized through a partnership between nonprofits Warrior’s Chariot and the Wounded Warrior Project for the purpose of providing an extravagant venue for warriors to interact with the community, ride in “supercars,” and have the opportunity to spend time with other warriors.
The rally included four stops to provide participants with the opportunity to ride in four different vehicles to maximize the experience or riding in an exotic car, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.
Said one participant: “I had an unforgettable experience riding in exotic sports cars. The best part, though, was descending on Cripple Creek for the national anthem and the public reception ... it felt like a hero’s parade.”
Warrior’s Chariot is a newly-designated 501c3 nonprofit and the Warrior’s Run Supercar Rally was a celebration of its first official event, said Rick Douglas, CEO and one of six founders. “I have great friends with phenomenal cars who wanted to use them for a good cause,” Douglas said.
Warrior’s Chariot, a passion project for Douglas, was initiated two years ago along with friends who enjoy the ownership of these magnificent vehicles and who wanted to provide an extraordinary experience for those who served their country. The rally was a celebration of Warrior’s Chariot’s receipt of nonprofit status in August.
Partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project was a natural fit. WWP’s events are as diverse as the individual veterans and communities who want to help veterans with their transition into civilian life following a traumatic experience during their military service. The events can range from attendance at a baseball game or supercar rally or activities such as fishing or enjoying a suite at a NFL game. Opportunities are posted weekly via email to those who are registered with the Wounded Warrior Project.
“PTSD tends to lead people into isolation and depression. Wounded Warrior’s events help to encourage them to interact with other veterans and re-engage with their community,” said WWP Event Coordinator Justin Martinez.
“Every veteran is different. No two individuals deal with PTSD the same,” said Rob Louis, public relations specialist for Wounded Warrior Project.
Louis said Wounded Warrior Project was started in 2003 with donations of backpacks filled with basic necessities such as underwear, clothing and comfort items for the returning wounded at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
According to a 2017 Wounded Warrior Project survey, 78% of wounded warriors live with symptoms of depression. The survey found that more than half of respondents (52.6%) expressed they are able to talk with fellow veterans to address their mental health concerns.
“These events give us an opportunity to talk about the different programs available to our wounded warriors,” said Matthew Haley, Wounded Warrior Project national service officer. “Our mission, our vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”
The project grew in scope to provide inpatient care and counseling to help veterans work through their trauma. The organization also provides networking, opportunities for education, benefits, resume assistance, counseling, sports clinics and referrals to appropriate agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“There are lots of veteran-assistance program opportunities across the country. We encourage veterans to call our resource center (888-997-2586). If we can’t help them, we will direct them to the organization who can,” Haley said.
Post-9/11 veterans can register with the Wounded Warrior Project by visiting woundedwarriorproject.org. An honorable discharge and a DD-214 (given to veterans once leaving military service) are the only paperwork needed to get started.