Ft. Hood shooting survivor joins injured vets on biking journey - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Ft. Hood shooting survivor joins injured vets on biking journey

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)

They've conquered the battle field, but now they must conquer the roads of America. 

Sunday marked the first day of a 400 plus mile ride from Atlanta to New Orleans for more than 200 injured veterans and their supporters.

"You can't sit there and feel sorry for yourself," said one participant.

For hundreds of veterans, it's going much further than "getting back up."

The Ride2Recovery cycling adventure has officially kicked off, and along the way veterans have the opportunity to share their stories, some that are still hard to tell.

"I had to learn to walk again three different times because of the subsequent surgeries," said former Staff Sergeant Patrick Zeigler, who was shot in the head and multiple times in his body during the tragic 2009 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 soldiers dead.

Zeigler came home from two deployments in Iraq safe and sound, but found himself in the middle of a targeted rampage, all at the hands of a fellow soldier.

"Laying in the hospital bed and knowing that an American had done this to me... it was just really hard to deal with and I was down for a long time," said Zeigler.

However, he didn't stay there. Sunday's feat to conquer hundreds of miles shows just how far he's come and will go.

"One thing that happens when a veteran is wounded is they get pulled away from their unit, and they lose this sense of family," explained Former Cpl Joe Coddington, the event director. 

But now, new families are being formed.

"While we're riding, had some great conversations today with some of the riders, learning their stories, talking about my story and that's what's going to get everybody through this," said Fort Benning SFC Patrick Smith, who is also joining the ride.

"I've got a little 3-year-old son, so it's really special to be out here and doing something like this, and then one day I get to tell him about how I did this huge bike ride and hopefully he'll be proud of me," added Zeigler.

The group will continue on Monday and spend the night in Montgomery. This is the seventh year the organization has hosted the event.

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