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Operation American Spirit Kicks off in Seattle
 
By Staff
Date: 9/22/2007
Operation American Spirit Kicks off in Seattle
 

Operation American Spirit Kicks off in Seattle
Emmy winning actor Jack Scalia and friends left Seattle for the 1500 mile ride to San Diego support  injured USA troops and their families.

Operation American Spirit kicked off today from the Seattle Veterans Administration under cloudy cool skies on the last day of summer. Early morning rain fell until just before the ride featuring Jack Scalia and Iraq Veteran JR Martinez took off on the first leg of 102 miles to Centralia, Wahington.


Jack Scalia interviewed by local TV station KOMO before leaving on the first leg of his 1500 mile ride. Photo c. Operation American Spirit

The ride featured 2 stops at Veteran Administrations and a full MP escorted journey through Ft. Lewis. Ft. Lewis has taken among the most casualties of any military base in the US in the war in Iraq.

Covered on local TV Channel KOMO: The soldiers are relying on pedal power to help them heal from the war. "We all have scars," said J.R. Martinez, a rider. "With mine, you can see them on the outside. There's millions of people that have them on the inside. You can't see them. We can all relate because we have all had to overcome something in life."

Martinez is just 24 years old, but the Iraq war veteran has already looked death in the eye. "My vehicle ran over a landmine. I was trapped inside the vehicle, the vehicle caught on fire. By the time they were able pull me out of the vehicle, I was burned over 40 percent of my body," he said. "And you still have a mortgage, you still have a car payment, you still have utilities, you still have bills to pay," Martinez said.

Scalia and the team are stopping at various towns for various fundraisers planned. The riders are also raising money through pledges. "The men and women of the Armed forces, once they come home, their lives are just beginning again and now we need to step up for them as they have stepped up for us," Scalia said.

Scalia says it's also about saying "thank you" to veterans. "The reason we can talk here and make films and do television and leads these fairly safe lives because of the sacrifice they are making over there," he said. The team hope every mile will put more dollars in the pockets of wounded vets when they need it most.

The central Washington region was in full beauty as Scalia and Co. made their way through some great views of the Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier. Despite a bit of headwind the last 40 miles, the group was able to make good time. All along the route, the riders were greeted by friendly honks, thumbs up and waves from passing motorists as the word about the ride was definitely reaching the people.

A movie night fundraiser was hosted Saturday night by the Olympic Club of Centralia with 50% of the gross donated to Operation American Spirit.


J.R. Martinez in American Spirit kit enjoys a water break during the first day. Photo c. Operation American Spirit

Operation American Spirit was the lead story on KOMO 4 PM news on Saturday night; and was covered by local media. The ride heads to Portland on Sunday with a big finish at the Portland VA.
See the Video Interview of the Jack and JR here.
Riders can join up with Jack and friends along the way, more information at: www.OperationAmericanSpirit.org

The fund raising ride was originally called Operation Velo and announced at a press conference in August.

Links:
Jack Scalia
Salute to American Heroes  

Operation American Spirit Route and Schedule
September 24 - Day 1 Seattle to Centralia - Washington
September 25 - Day 2 Centralia to Portland Oregon
September 26 - Day 3 Portland to Monroe
September 27- Day 4 Monroe to Reedsport
September 28 - Day 5 Coos Bay to Brookings
September 29 - Day 6 Brookings to Arcata - California
September 30 - Day 7 Eureka to Ft. Bragg
October 1- Day 8 Ft. Bragg to Santa Rosa
October 2 - Day 9 San Francisco to Castroville
October 3 - Day 10 Monterey to San Luis Obispo
October 4 - Day 11 San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara
October 5 - Day 12 Santa Barbara to Westwood
October 6 - Day 13 Westwood to Anaheim
October 7 - Day 14 Anaheim to San Diego

Please visit OperationVelo.org for more information or to be active in the ride.
Public service announcements are available for viewing: View the 10 second PSA (Quicktime) View the 30 second PSA (Quicktime) View the Press Conference (Quicktime)
 

 
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