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Injured Veterans to Cycle Normandy's Historic Battlefields and Beaches in the First Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge

Air Compassion for Veterans helps take injured veterans to cycle D-Day sites as part of the rehabilitation program

CALABASSAS, Calif., June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 130 injured U.S. veterans and their supporters will depart from five American Airlines hub airports today for France, where they will cycle in historic World War II sites on the first Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge presented by UnitedHealthcare. Flights are being provided on American Airlines by Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV), a charitable veteran's air transportation organization.

At airports including Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O'Hare, Boston Logan, New York-JFK and Miami, riders will be given send-off parties organized by American Airlines employees, including members of American's Veterans Military Employee Resource Group (VMERG) chapters in the respective cities.

"Our goal at Ride 2 Recovery is to provide our injured veterans with the opportunity to spend a week on a cycle, challenging themselves both physically and mentally," said John Wordin, president. "Having Air Compassion for Veterans and American Airlines provide transportation for them removes one more barrier as we are introduced to the famous battle and landing sites of our World War II heroes with local historians."

The largest group will depart from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where a special send-off will include remarks by retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, the only living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War, as well as executives with American Airlines, Ride 2 Recovery and Air Compassion for Veterans.  Speaking on behalf of the riders will be retired U.S. Army Sgt. Nathan Hunt, a double amputee who was injured in Iraq.  Nathan has hand cycled more than 5,000 miles on ten Ride 2 Recovery Challenges.

"This program is a perfect fit for Air Compassion for Veterans," said ACV president Ed Boyer, "and it's all the more meaningful because of the role American Airlines and its employees have played in making this trip possible. We truly owe them a debt of gratitude because of Fuel Smart, an employee-driven fuel- savings program from which a portion of the proceeds have been donated to our organization."

The riders will arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on June 30 and travel to Caen, where their tour will begin. During the six-day, 240-mile ride, participants will cycle Normandy for a first-hand history lesson that will highlight the landing sites, battlefields and museums of D-Day. The group will be joined by five injured veterans from the French armed forces.

The Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge cyclists, including veterans using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes, will have overnight stops in Carentan, Cherbourg, St. Lo, Lisieux and Paris. In Lisieux, the Ride 2 Recovery cyclists will be at the finish line of the Tour de France Stage 6.

This is the second year that UnitedHealthcare is serving as Ride 2 Recovery's presenting sponsor, providing financial, in-kind and volunteer support to assist in rehabilitating America's injured veterans. Joining UnitedHealthcare are new supporters American Airlines, Air Compassion for Veterans, Monster and the USO. American is the official airline of Ride 2 Recovery, Air Compassion for Veterans and the USO.

Ride 2 Recovery, in partnership with the Military and Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service offices, offers service men and women mental and physical rehabilitation programs that feature cycling as the core activity. From indoor spinning training in Warrior Transition Units to multi-day, long-distance rides, Ride 2 Recovery helps wounded warriors recover through the physical and mental challenge of cycling long distances.

To follow the Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge and for daily updates, visit the Ride 2 Recovery Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Ride-2-Recovery/158096691111.

About R2R

Ride 2 Recovery, a 501(c)(3), helps injured veterans improve their health and wellness through individual and group cycling.  Cycling has proven to be a catalyst in the recovery process by providing a new physical challenge while concurrently helping to cope with the mental challenges.  

About Air Compassion for Veterans

Air Compassion for Veterans (ACV) is the oldest and largest charitable veterans' air transportation organization in the United States. ACV has provided over 18,000 flights for veterans in the last four years. Flights are provided for wounded warriors and/or their adversely-affected family members. ACV is a major sponsor of the Ride 2 Recovery program and the Ride 2 Recovery Normandy Challenge.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers.  The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide.  UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

About American Airlines

American Airlines, American Eagle and AmericanConnection® serve 250 cities in 50 countries with, on average, more than 3,600 daily flights. The combined network fleet numbers more than 900 aircraft. American's award-winning website, AA.com®, provides users with easy access to check and book fares, plus personalized news, information and travel offers. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld® Alliance, which brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business, enabling them to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. Together, its members serve approximately 900 destinations with more than 9,000 daily flights to 145 countries and territories. American Airlines, Inc. and American Eagle Airlines, Inc. are subsidiaries of AMR Corporation. AmericanAirlines, American Eagle, AmericanConnection, AA.com, and AAdvantage are trademarks of American Airlines, Inc. (NYSE: AMR).

SOURCE Ride 2 Recovery

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