Coca-Cola 600, Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge Highlight Memorial Day Weekend

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Kat and Staff Sgt. Aaron Causey at the Coca-Cola 600. USO Photo by Katie Whitlow

Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Causey, his wife, Kat, and USO Senior Vice President of Operations Alan Reyes represented the organization Sunday at the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.

Causey – who was wounded in Afghanistan – served as the event’s grand marshal and, along with his wife and Reyes, got to yell “drivers: start your engines” at the beginning of the race.

It’s the third straight year Coke has invited the USO to be the race’s grand marshal. The two American institutions have been partners since 1941.

“At Coke, we’ve always supported the military through the USO,” said Erika Von Heiland Strader, Director-Community Marketing for Coca-Cola North America, in an interview last week. “That’s why we make sure the USO is an integral part of the Coke 600.”

Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Challenge

USO partner Ride 2 Recovery held its Memorial Challenge on Monday in Washington. The ride – which was 41 miles from Arlington to Manassas, Va. – was another avenue through which the organizations help our wounded, ill and injured troops retake control of their lives.

Part of the physical health and recreation initiatives sponsored by the USO Warrior and Family Care, Ride 2 Recovery helps improve the health and wellness of America’s healing troops through challenge races that test endurance as a way to build physical confidence.

Program partners since 2007, the USO provides funds for bikes for some Ride 2 Recovery participants (both traditional and adaptive) along with day-of-event support. In 2012, the USO supported seven Ride 2 Recovery events with snacks and rest areas. Throughout the year, USO centers will host events – including dinners and fun activities – for Ride 2 Recovery cyclists as they come ride through their geographic areas.