For Columbus resident Melanie Roberts, participating in Honor Ride Ohio means giving veterans like her the opportunity to discover the calm and solace of cycling.
"I feel like I want to help others achieve that," Roberts said.
Honor Ride Ohio is a noncompetitive cycling fundraiser to help injured veterans and first responders.
The bicycle tour will begin at 8 a.m. May 26 at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, 150 W. Main St. in New Albany. It will include 14-, 31- and 67-mile route options.
This will be the first time Roberts, 41, will participate. The Navy veteran said if she had heard about the event in previous years, she might have gotten into cycling earlier.
Roberts used to be a runner, but knee and joint issues sustained during service prevented her from keeping up the hobby, she said. In addition to a back injury, her service -- which included deployments to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan -- left her with grief-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
She discovered cycling in 2011, after attending spin class following the birth of her daughter, Kiera. Last year, she and her sister, April, participated in Pelotonia, the Columbus-based charity bicycle tour to raise money for cancer research at Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, to honor their mother, Mary, who died from cancer in 2004.
Roberts said she saw an Honor Ride flyer while buying a new bike and decided to get involved. She said she knows other veterans are searching for healthy ways to deal with mental and physical ailments, the former of which sometimes take longer to heal than the latter.
New Albany resident Sean Humphrey tells a similar story.
Humphrey, 51, said he found cycling during military service and continued with the sport after exiting active duty.
He served in the Army's Military Police Corps for three years of active duty and a year-and-a-half of reserve duty.
Humphrey said he discovered Honor Ride while working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for his small business, which works with the VA to provide housing for veterans.
This will be his third year riding in the event, which was founded in 2014 in New Albany by Peter and Susan Horvath.
About 850 riders are expected to participate in the fifth Honor Ride, about 200 more riders than last year, Peter Horvath said.
More than $200,000 is expected to be raised this year from the ride and a May 17 fundraising event the Horvaths hold at their New Albany home, he said.
All proceeds benefit Project Hero, formerly known as Ride 2 Recovery, at a local and national level, Peter Horvath said. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing free recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration services for veterans and first responders, according to its website.
Funds from Honor Ride Ohio are expected to help open a local Project Hero facility, he said. The facility will be a place for veterans and first responders to recover from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, he said.
A building at 14461 Worthington Road, which is south of state Route 161 and west of Beech Road, is being renovated "in cooperation with the New Albany Co.," Peter Horvath said. The address is on the border of Licking County, according to Google Maps.
Project Hero and local volunteers will run the facility, which will be a regional hub for the national organization, he said.
The facility also will serve as a meeting center, and it will have bicycles on hand so veterans can begin riding inside and transition to outdoor riding, he said. The roads in western Licking County are popular cycling routes.
The goal is that the combination of physical exercise and talking to others in similar situations will help improve the health of veterans suffering from PTSD or other traumatic brain injuries, Peter Horvath said.
For his part, Humphrey said, cycling removes worry for him, whether he's going down the block or across town.
"It makes me feel like a kid again," he said.