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Riding to the aid of wounded warriors Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jun 02 2012 12:00 PM

A local motorsports shop is teaming up with a San Diego nonprofit to support wounded soldiers who have been medically discharged from service.

Southbay Motorsports is hosting the Warrior’s Code Poker Ride charity event tomorrow, June 2.

Some 200 to 250 people will participate in an 85-mile ride around San Diego County that begins and ends at Southbay Motorsports. Riders will make multiple stops, during which they draw a card to add to their poker hand.
Prizes will be given for the best and worst hands and T-shirts to the first 200 riders.

Wounded Warrior Homes event organizer Cassidy McFarland said the event is one of many fundraisers the organization has to raise money to provide single male and female veterans with affordable housing, hands-on resources and a transition from active-duty service to independent living.

Wounded Warrior Homes executive director and founder Mia Roseberry said homes are essential to injured soldiers.

“Those participating in the event will help us open our first house and bring community awareness as an organization,” Roseberry said.

Roseberry said they expect about 2,000 people to attend  the event. Participants include community riders and people from local motorcycle clubs.

The transitional housing is specifically for wounded soldiers who have suffered from an improvised explosive device (IED) blast as well as those with traumatic brain injuries.

“No matter how many transitional housing programs open in San Diego, there are not enough,” Roseberry said.

The organization focuses on giving back to service members who lack a support system or whose families are not located near a Veteran Affairs hospital for continued rehabilitation care.

Roseberry said housing is offered for up to two and a half years.

“Part of the reason we anticipate having many stay for two and a half years is that if they were to go home, they might not be able to continue their care and be near their comrades,” she said.

More than 60 percent of wounded service members suffer from “blast effects” or TBI, of which 20 percent will require prolonged or lifetime care, according to the Wounded Warrior Homes website.

Roseberry was inspired to help veterans after growing up in a military family and is also a special education teacher who gained firsthand knowledge of the daily challenges faced by soldiers with TBI.

All money raised at the event goes toward purchasing housing for wounded soldiers, which can cost from $250,000 to $300,000, however, the organization is working on getting the properties donated.

“We’re hoping to get the first home in the next 90 days, which will be located in North County,” Roseberry said.

The homes are set up dorm-room style, fully furnished with individual bedrooms for veterans, who are charged low rent. It also includes one room that serves as a classroom.

“They work on financial literacy training,” Roseberry said. “Whatever they need to become independent.”

Once veterans finish rehab they can start the application process — up to six months before they are discharged.

Wounded Warrior Homes is part of the San Diego Veterans Coalition, of which there are more than 80 organizations that serve the military community.

“The biggest thing for us is community awareness and fundraising,” Roseberry said.

The event will feature motorcycle stuntman Insane Kane, a band, barbecue, opportunity drawings and a motorcycle show.

Prizes will also be given for the best and worst poker hands and T-shirts will be given out to the first 200 riders.

The event will be held at 1890 Auto Park Place in Chula Vista. There is a $10 suggested donation at the gate. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

Questions or comments for Allison?  Email: asampite@thestarnews.com; Twitter: @starnewschisme

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