(Kyndell Nunley | KSNV)
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — Dozens of veterans are on a multi-state motorcycle ride honoring our nation’s wounded warriors.
At first glance it appears the group on this year’s Veteran’s Charity Ride to Sturgis is any ordinary group of bikers — but there is something more special here. Some of the vets are on modified bikes. Organizers have made sure to include all veterans, even those who were severely injured in combat.
“We removed the rear brake and removed it to where the clutch was replaced with a recluse clutch, an auto-clutch, then put a hand-shift on there,” said U.S. Army Veteran, Joshua Stein.
A double-amputee, Stein operates his bike completely by hand. He lost both of his legs defending our country as a soldier in Iraq on Easter Sunday 2006.
“To be able to get away from the wheel chair and get on the bike and enjoy life again and enjoy freedoms and to go out with a bunch of other veterans,” said Stein. “That’s America.”
The motorcycle Stein rides on has also been fitted with a side car, also modified to comfortably fit an amputee. Along the ride, he will switch back-and-forth from rider to side-car passenger with Neil Frustaglio, also a wounded warrior. Frustaglio, a Corporal in the Marine Corps, was injured on December 7, 2005, also in Iraq.
“If I can do that with no legs, and having to use a wheel chair and prosthetics by myself, anyone can push themselves to do something like this,” said Frustaglio.
The nine-day, 1,300+ mile journey to Sturgis, South Dakota is now bringing these comrades together with a new mission: to inspire and heal.
It’s incredibly therapeutic and it really goes with the saying, ‘you’ll never see a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office,” said Dave Frey who started the Veteran’s Charity Ride to Sturgis three years ago.
Frey adds that while behind the wheel of a bike these vets get a lot more than just wind in their hair, he calls it: motorcycle therapy.
“Motorcycle therapy is getting out of the house, back into the environment on a motorcycle, commanding that machine,” said Frey. “Your brain starts to work differently with all this awareness, all the perception starts kicking off and it brings you into the moment and pulls you out of your problems that you might be looking at.”
On their stop in Las Vegas the vets paid their respects to the local men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. As they continue on, Stein says he hopes that others who have faced hard days can take something from his journey; adding that whether you have both legs, just one or none — he’s found it’s always possible to ride on.
“I never imagined that I would be doing this but it was one of things that was a goal. I wanted to get back into riding, I wanted to get back on the road,” said Stein. “I just knew it was gonna be one of those things that was gonna help me.”