Chicago Zoological Society Hosts Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride At Brookfield Zoo

Andy Dahn
June 21, 2019 - 8:13 am
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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A tiring bike ride Thursday morning ended with an emotional welcome at the Brookfield Zoo for several dozen wounded veterans.

The nearly 60 wounded veterans were greeted by a massive American flag, draped across two ladder trucks from the Riverside and Brookfield Fire Departments outside, and roaring applause from visitors and staff inside.

The nearly 60 wounded veterans were greeted by a massive American flag, draped across two ladder trucks from the Riverside and Brookfield Fire Departments outside, and roaring applause from visitors and staff inside.
WBBM Newsradio/Andy Dahn

Pam Storich and her daughter were among those who gathered outside the zoo's south gate to cheer for those biking in the annual Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride.

"I think it's really important to show them that we do appreciate their service in the past and currently," she said. "The public doesn't support them enough. It's just really important to show support."

Dr. Stuart Strahl is Director of the Brookfield Zoo, which took part in the 60-plus mile event for the fifth year in a row.

"The idea is to give them the feeling that they have the support of our community, the support of this institution and make them feel like they are not just welcome, but they're back home," Strahl said. "We care about them. They need to know that."

Wounded Warrior Alisha Strife said those in seated bikes led the way in the 16 mile ride.

"It ensures that everyone is able to make the ride," she said. "We drove all the way through Rosemont and into the zoo today. Seeing the kids, the fire department, the police, it's just absolutely touching. But for the warriors, being able to go through and finish, to watch the people who are struggling make it through, that to me is the most touching thing I've ever been a part of."

Warriors were then served a private lunch and visited by some of the zoo's animal ambassadors, including reindeer and box turtles.

The 16.2-mile ride to Brookfield Zoo is the first of a three-day, 61.5-mile cycling event throughout the Chicagoland area. The Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is a multi-day bicycling event, where injured veterans are challenged to push themselves physically and mentally as they manage visible and invisible wounds of war.