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Smith Middle School students and teachers welcome veterans riding in the 2009 Wounded Warriors Road 2 Recovery ride, which began in San Antonio and scheduled stops in Johnson County before concluding in Arlington. The event, now renamed Ride 2 Recovery, returns to Cleburne and Keene April 10 and 11.

Ride 2 Recovery, formerly Wounded Warriors Road 2 Recovery, officials called 2009’s swing through Texas an impressive adventure deserving of an encore.

Johnson County officials, who characterized the group’s local stops a wonderful and uplifting experience, welcomed the group to come back any time.

R2R riders participated in their first Texas run, traveling from San Antonio to Arlington, last year making stops in Cleburne, Alvarado and Keene along the way.

Gearing up for round two, the riders will arrive in Cleburne on April 10 with a scheduled April 11 Keene stop before continuing on to Arlington for a Texas Rangers game.

R2R, founded by John Wordin, hosts outdoor cycling events across America to raise money for recovery labs and events to help injured veterans overcome the obstacles they face.

“A big part of their mission is to raise funds for spin labs at VA hospitals to help veterans learn to use their new limbs,” said Marty Peters, 2nd Division director of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Peters is Cleburne’s R2R coordinator.

“The American Legion Auxiliary members are all thrilled and excited to have them coming back,” Peters said. “I’m confident Cleburne and Johnson County residents are going to show up to show our patriotism, cheer the riders on, and convey our appreciation.

“We need a good turnout. Each of these riders has sacrificed so much for us. All are wounded, some in obvious ways you can see, some in ways you can’t.”

Some riders have lost limbs, others suffer post traumatic stress disorders or brain or spinal injuries.

Peters encouraged residents to line the routes waving flags and to attend the riders’ scheduled stops and events.

Cleburne Mayor Ted Reynolds agreed.

“We loved the fact that they chose to come through Cleburne last year, and it turned out to be a very exciting event that we’re all proud to have been a part of,” Reynolds said. “I was really happy to learn they chose to back through. Last year’s visit was a highlight for Cleburne, and I encourage everyone to show up this year to show this brave group of Americans how much we care about them.”

Reynolds will present R2R participants with the key to the city on their arrival.

The riders are scheduled to arrive at about 2 p.m. at Cleburne High School’s track, where they will be greeted by the CHS band, Jacket Dancers, local officials and others.

The event is free and open to the public. Peters encouraged residents to bring lawn chairs because the bleachers only seat 200.

After the welcoming ceremony, riders will be on hand to visit with residents, Peters said.

As occurred last year, several celebrities plan to accompany the riders through all or parts of their trek.

Kristy Swanson, who starred in the film “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and Adam Baldwin of the television series “Chuck,” attended last year’s Johnson County stops. Both are tentatively scheduled to return along with Tobey McGuire of “Spider-Man” and Ethan Suplee of “My Name Is Earl.”

The riders will be treated to a banquet that night to be held at 7 p.m. in the Booker T. Washington Community and Recreation Center. Tickets remain available and cost $15 with the proceeds going to R2R,

“We still have tickets available, but people need to hurry up because once they’re gone ... ,” Cleburne Chamber of Commerce President Cathy Marchel said. “Either way, we want everyone to get out and show their support and appreciation by giving the veterans an awesome Cleburne welcome. We want business owners to put their flags out front and be out on the street the cheer them on as they ride by.”

Banquet tickets are available at the chamber building on 1511 West Henderson Street, or by calling 817-645-2455 or 817-558-4848.

The riders are scheduled to leave Cleburne between 8:30-9:30 a.m. April 11 and travel on to Keene.

This year’s event is sponsored by United Healthcare with the American Legion Auxiliary, Cleburne Chamber of Commerce and numerous local businesses and individuals working together to coordinate the Johnson County portion of the trek.

“It’s a community effort of everybody pulling together to make it work,” Peters said.

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