Tifton Gazette

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July 7, 2014

Riders hope their journey raises hope, funds

TIFTON — Dressed in red, white and blue with the words "Ride Across USA" written their chests, seven cyclists rode through Tifton Monday morning on a mission to finish their 3,000 mile journey to Florida in honor of all warriors.

After receiving a call from a citizen Monday morning about the cyclists making their way to Tifton from Albany, The Tifton Gazette took to the streets in search of the group who were on Highway 82 near Ty Ty.

Organizer Tracy Draper told The Gazette that this journey began with a dream of riding across the country and she, along with the other six cyclists, are doing it in support of the organization Hope For The Warriors, which is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit and restoring hope for service members and military families.

Hope For The Warriors' mission is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

According to Ride Across USA's website, their mission is: "Ordinary people doing extraordinary things for one reason: to give hope to our warriors."

Draper and her team are from Central Florida. They started their journey across America June 4 in Malibu, Calif. They're expected to complete their journey today in Amelia Island, Fla. Draper said they dipped their rear wheels in the Pacific Ocean at Malibu Beach, and they look forward to dipping their front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in Florida. She explained this "wheel dipping ceremony" as tradition for cyclists.

Along their journey, they have been to the Grand Canyon, Navajo Nation, Ariz., Mesa Verde, Colo. and the United States Air Force Academy, Colo. On average, they rode 100 miles per day. Following them was a driver in an SUV pulling a trailer with their supplies.

Draper, who lived in Albany for eight years, told The Gazette Monday they planned on spending the night at a hotel in Waycross.

The team noted they have been invited by the Miami Marlins to ride onto the field July 28.

The group has raised close to $15,000 for Hope For The Warriors. Their goal is $35,000. All proceeds donated will go directly toward the organization. Those who would like to make a donation can visit http://rideacrossusa.com/donate.

To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.

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