Vets ride for comrades

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A bike ride in Champion on Sunday was aimed at helping disabled veterans transition back to life outside the military.

Veteran Brett Clingan took part in the ride, but not in the way he was used to prior to his service. Clingan used to run 10 to 12 miles a day and participated in marathons. Now in a wheelchair, Clingan hit the streets on a hand cycle.

“A friend of mine told me about the hand cycles. I never knew anything about them,” said Clingan. “I started doing that quite a bit, and it is the closest thing to running I have done. It gives you that much freedom.”

Clingan dealt with depression following his injuries, something that is common with disabled vets but found escape through hand cycling. That’s just the kind of thing On Target 4 Vets tries to do for other disabled veterans.

“Trying to get the community awareness and helping veterans get involved in adaptive sports and recreational therapy,” said veteran Michael Paul.

A Northeast Ohio native, Paul was injured during active duty and is now wheelchair bound. He said it was the support system from friends, family and other disabled veterans that helped him through the rough times.

“It’s very important to create a network so that these veterans can open up to each other and share their experiences and create those life-long relationships with other veterans who have experienced what they have,” said Paul.

On Target 4 Vets hopes to make the ride an annual event and create more activities for disabled veterans in Northeast Ohio.

“I have never had an experience as I had with these events that we do with other veterans,” said Clingan. “Just seeing how much stuff we have in common. I have never laughed so good as I do with other vets.”

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