Sunday, June 12, 2011

In the saddle for a worthy cause

If you happen to see a group of horses and riders heading West along Route 3, you might want to wave. That would be Jeff Keegan, 63, his son, Patrick, 19, Mike Proscia, 45, and a couple other wrangles who all hail from Lake Havasu, Ariz. Jeff Keegan is a retired Marine, Patrick is a working cowboy who graduated in May from high school, and Proscia is a former Arizona National Guard soldier injured in Iraq during a deployment in 2006-2007. Around 10 this morning the riders set out from the Dahlgren Navy base on a 3,500-mile cross country ride to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.

The Keegans started planning the ride several months ago, arriving in King George County a few days ago with their horses and gear. They were put up at Dan and Deb Crowl’s farm on Poplar Neck Road. Crowl is a retired Marine Corps colonel.

Keegan, himself a retired Marine, and a longtime rider, was looking to spend some time with his son, while doing something to help troops injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. ”I found out that the government was not taking care of the troops as they should when I ran into Mike” out in Arizona at another Wounded Warriors ride , Keegan says. So the trio decided to start in Virginia. When their first place to stay in King George fell through, the Naval Support Facility’s family services office got them in touch with the Crowls.

After a brief departure ceremony at Dahlgren, they hit the road. Keegan, whose last long ride was a 14-day endurance ride of 800 miles, says they hope to do 15 or 20 miles a day. They’ll stop wherever they can overnight. The ride could take three to six months. Proscia, who had traumatic brain injury from roadside bombs in Iraq, suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. He’s a riding rookie, who admits the next couple months in the saddle will be challenging.

“I’ve only ridden a horse a couple times in my whole life,” he said this morning. “I want to try the whole thing. It will help bring awareness to other wounded soldiers, and show them they can do things. I’m working on getting back to a new normal.”

From here, they’ll head into Stafford and Fauquier , then north and West into West Virginia. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and ending near San Francisco.. The ride is supported by Wounded Warriors Project, Freedom Bridge Foundation and the Lake Havasu City chamber of commerce.

Keegan says individuals, business and organizations are sponsoring the ride, which is also seeking donations along the way. For example, U-Haul chipped in a truck as a support vehicle.

Full Story here -

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