As nearly 150 people readied themselves to ride across Shelter Island Sunday morning, veteran Matt Rohde reminded the crowd who they were honoring.
“We’re here today because Joey’s not,” Mr. Rohde said. “Just remember Joe. That’s all we ask.”
Cyclists and veterans rode in the first “Spur Ride,” a fundraiser to help support the Lt. Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund.
First Lt. Theinert was killed in June 2010 by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice. He was 24 years old.
The fundraising event Sunday included local cyclists and veterans from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who rode with the Wounded Warriors project, which helps injured service members transition into civilian life.
Guest speakers like Supervisor Jim Dougherty and U.S. Olympic sailor and Shelter Island native Amanda Clark attended the event and thanked the veterans in the crowd for their service.
“I had an opportunity to represent us,” Ms. Clark said to the Wounded Warriors. “But it’s nothing like the way you guys represent us.”
Riders took one of two routes on the ride, a 12-mile loop or the 25-mile journey. Along the way, volunteers offered water bottles, energy bars and bananas to the cyclists and veterans.
“I’m glad to see people pay attention to these fellas,” said James Pete Jepson, a Vietnam veteran and motorcycle rider with the Patriot Guard who helped escort the Wounded Warriors during the ride. “God bless them.”
Army Sgt. Angel Vazquez and Sgt. William Santos, who both served in Iraq, said they were happy to see the large turnout for the event.
“It’s been really great,” Sgt. Vazquez said at the rest station halfway through the ride. “I’m happy but really tired.”