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News Article

Employees Honor Wounded Veterans in the 2014 Soldier Ride

2014-10-15_UTAS_WWP
Twenty-seven ISR & Space Systems employees from Westford, Mass. participated in the 2014 Soldier Ride to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Through participating in the 26- and 52-mile rides, the group raised more than $17,000 for the WWP. ISR & Space Systems has been supporting the WWP since 2010 as an extension of the SBU’s commitment to “support the warfighter” – on and off the battlefield.
 
For Janet Champagne, Senior Executive Administrative Assistant to the President, ISR & Space Systems, one of the most emotional parts of the Sept. 27 ride was the cheering. “The veterans start the ride before us,” she said. “They ride a mile or two, pull over, line the sides of the road and begin to cheer for and yell ‘thank you’ to the rest of us,” she said.  “After we pass, they cycle behind us to the finish line, where we wait to cheer for them. The sight of them cycling to the finish with a police escort is inspiring.  I’m getting emotional just talking about it.”
 
Bill Lynch agrees.  “It’s really humbling that they stop to cheer and thank us when they are the ones who have sacrificed so much,” he said.
 
Lynch, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Program Manager, has organized a team of riders from the ISR & Space Systems site in Westford, Mass., for the past five years. 
 
“I retired from the Army and joined the company in 2010 just as the site started its relationship with the Wounded Warrior Project,” Lynch said.  “I have several friends and know many others who have been wounded in battle, so when I heard about the ride, I was all in.”
 
 “This ride is about so much more than fundraising,” Lynch said.  “So many other great things happen. One year, we had an employee on our team who suffered a stroke and this event was his first big physical achievement after his stroke. We had a dad whose daughter has completed part of the course with him for the past two years . . . this year, for the first time, she completed all 26 miles with him! There are so many inspiring stories of human achievement . . . stories about overcoming obstacles, building trust, persevering, pushing through mental and physical pain . . . stories about building community and working together toward a common goal.  That’s what this event is really about.”
 
For Champagne, a three-time participant, the ride is personal; her dad was a wounded veteran and her son-in-law is in the Marine Corps. “I truly believe that ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” she said.  “We are all blessed with so many gifts.  We work for a successful company that is leading by example through its support for organizations like the WWP. This is one small way I can give back to the brave men and women who serve our country.”
 
Before the ride, a Wounded Warrior addressed the riders saying that the WWP offers events that allow veterans to “find a way to be normal” while “coping with injury and trauma.”
 
“It’s important that our Warriors know that we have their backs,” Lynch said.  “On the battlefield, our products make a difference.  Off the battlefield, our employees care and try to make a difference through events like this for these great men and women who have given so much.”
 
The riders cycled through and around Minuteman National Park, where the first shots of the Revolution were fired. “It is fitting that the ride starts and ends yards away from the Old North Bridge where our nation’s first warriors fought for freedom in 1775,” Lynch said. “It’s a special day at special place.”
 
Anyone interested in participating in the 2015 WWP Soldier Ride can contact Bill Lynch for more information at [email protected]
 
The Soldier Ride is one element of the Westford site’s ongoing relationship with the WWP and support for veterans.  The site’s employees also conduct Veteran’s Week activities in November.