One of America's most prestigious sporting venues will play host to some of the nation's great heroes next week. The Wounded Warrior Project will bring its Soldier Ride to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, allowing the local community to show its support for the country's soldiers at home and abroad.
Soldier Ride began in 2004 as part of a cross-country pledge drive by civilian Chris Carney, who rode coast-to-coast on his bicycle and raised more than $1 million for the Wounded Warrior Project. Carney rode again in 2005, this time with veterans, and an annual tradition was born.
The project expanded to seven regional rides in 2007, and President Bush welcomed a group of Wounded Warriors to the White House the following year. President Obama also recognized the effort, inviting the members of the Washington D.C. Soldier Ride to the White House in April.
Eight soldiers -- each of whom suffered life-changing injuries -- will cycle to Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, where they'll meet some of their favorite players and take part in a pregame ceremony. Nick Swisher, who has become engrossed in the Wounded Warrior Project, is looking forward to the event.
"It's an honor for the entire Yankees organization to welcome these brave men and women to Yankee Stadium," said Swisher as part of a press release. "Giving back to those who have served our country is a priority for the Yankees and we are proud to be taking part in New York's Soldier Ride events."
Former soldiers of all abilities participate in the Soldier Rides, which will take place in 11 cities this year. Many of the soldiers need cutting-edge technology to make their rides, using custom-made hand cycles, trikes and bicycles to accommodate their various wounds and prosthetics.
The Wounded Warrior Project exists to provide the equipment and support at no cost to veterans, and the Soldier Rides are one of their main fund-raising tools. GEICO and U-Haul have both signed on as sponsors of the event, and people can volunteer or donate funds at woundedwarriorproject.org
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.