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More than 150 Wounded Veterans Complete 450-Mile Bike Tour in New Orleans as Part of the 10th Annual

More than 150 injured veterans, first responders and their supporters participated in the 10th annual UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge, a noncompetitive bicycle tour from Tallahassee, Fla., to New Orleans, March 5-10.

The cyclists covered more than 450 miles with overnight stops in Panama City and Walton Beach, Fla., Orange Beach, Mobile, Ala., Gulfport, Miss, and ended Saturday afternoon, March 10 at Champions Square in New Orleans, where they were welcomed by Helena Moreno, former La. State Representative-District 93 (and newly-elected New Orleans City Councilmember At-Large); John Heaton, MD, chief medical officer for LCMC Health; New Orleans Saints player #33, Trey Edmunds; Saintsations with the Saints' mascot Gumbo, and cheering members of the public. Entertainment was provided by the National WWII Museum's Victory Belles.

In addition to the physical and psychological benefits of the ride and cycling in general, the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Gulf Coast Challenge also helped raise awareness about America’s heroes’ needs while honoring their courage both in defending the nation and learning how to address the challenges of daily life upon their return home.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to support Project Hero and its work on behalf of the men and women who have sacrificed so much in the service of our country,” said Joseph Ochipinti, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of the Gulf States. “UnitedHealthcare employees and volunteers eagerly supported and cheered participants along the 450-mile route.”

Traveling by historic sites, civic centers and local attractions, the cyclists rode hand cycles, recumbent cycles, custom tandems and traditional road bikes. The public was invited and encouraged to gather along the ride routes, at lunch stops and hotels to support the cyclists.

“The Challenge Series combines cycling comradery and peer-to-peer interaction to help veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury meet challenges, achieve goals and build lasting relationships,” said John Wordin, president and founder of Project Hero. “The multiple-day format gives healing heroes a unique opportunity for a life-changing experience that supports mental and physical rehabilitation and recovery.”

A former professional cyclist, Wordin rides in every Project Hero Challenge Series.

Daily routes, stops and events as well as registration information for single- or multiple-day public riders, and upcoming Challenge rides can be found at

About Project Hero

Founded in 2008, Project Hero is a groundbreaking national non-profit organization dedicated to helping Veterans and First Responders affected by PTSD, TBI and injury achieve rehabilitation, recovery and resilience in their daily lives and increasing awareness of the national mental health crisis posed by PTSD and TBI. Project Hero programs produce positive outcomes at lower costs and reduce drug-based therapies. Project Hero builds and provides adaptive bikes to physically-challenged and injured Veterans and First Responders and has helped tens of thousands of our Healing Heroes at no cost to participants through cycling events, community-based programs in more than 50 cities throughout the US and by supporting research. For information, visit

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.


Photos courtesy of UnitedHealthcare and Project Hero.

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