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Veterans, Caregivers, to Ride for Awareness, Independence

15 Jan, 2015


Event Expected to Have 1,000 Participants

Mobile Aerofest joined with Independence Fund and the Gary Sinise Foundation in announcing that a group of over 100 injured veterans and caregivers from across the country will meet in Mobile, AL, to participate in the inaugural AeroFest Independence Ride on March 21, 2015. The ride, which will begin in Bayou La Batre and conclude at the Mobile Aerofest at the Brookley Aeroplex, is expected to have over 1000 participants. The Aerofest, which is open to the public and takes place on March 20-21, 2015 is expected to draw over 30,000 guests. To see a video on the Ride go to:

"The Mobile Aerofest, commencing with the Independence Ride that starts in Bayou LaBatre and concludes at the Mobile Aeroplex, represents a totally new concept for a socially conscious large scale event," said Mobile Mayor, Sandy Stimpson. "It will bring veterans, active duty and the larger community together around world class music, food and entertainment to support our wounded heroes. I am confident that Aerofest will be a landmark event in our region for years to come."

“I am honored to be a part of the Aerofest Indy Ride and the Mobile Aerofest—a festival that is produced for all the right reasons,” said Gary Sinise. “It will be very special for the Aerofest to commence in Bayou LaBatre and Mobile so that the people from all over the United States can join with our veterans to provide them with the support that they need and deserve.”

 “It is fitting that the first annual Aerofest Indy Ride starts in Bayou La Batre as our community has always come together to celebrate and support our nation’s heroes,” said Bayou La Batre Mayor, Brett S. Dungan. “We are very proud to work with the Aerofest, Independence Fund and the Sinise Foundation—we thank the many volunteers, city employees, bike shop owners and citizens who are now working overtime to produce this fantastic event.”

“It’s important to do this ride because there are literally thousands of veterans that can benefit from the proceeds,” said Indy Ride Director, Neil Campbell, now in his eighth year of organizing Independence Fund Rides. “This ride welcomes these men and women home into the community and is healing for everyone involved.”

The ride will offer four routes of 10.5 miles, 22.1 miles, 42.5 miles and 53.0 miles. The Long and Ultra-long rides will both start at Bayou La Batre and end at the Mobile Aeroplex. The Medium and Short routes will both start at Mobile Aeroplex. The Medium route will do an out and back on the same path as the Long but in the opposite direction. Their turnaround will be at a midpoint rest stop. The Short route goes into downtown Mobile with a loop through the historic properties and the main scenic roads in the downtown area.

Independence Fund Board member, Army Sgt Major, Jesse Acosta, who was blinded by a piece of shrapnel from a mortar attack in Iraq in 2006, has participated in Independence Rides across the country for the past eight years and views the awareness portion of the ride as being just as important as raising funds for other injured veterans.

“Most people are aware of the amputees and the amazing advances in prosthetics that have taken place since this conflict began, but there are many different types of hidden trauma that can be attributed to the war that most are completely oblivious to.” Sgt. Major Acosta will attend and ride in the AeroFest 2015 Independence Ride.

The Independence Fund (www.independencefund.org), is the ride sponsor and organizer for AeroFest and has distributed more than $20M in grants and services to qualifying veterans including the purchase of robotic wheel chairs, track chairs, custom built bicycles and provides Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) for injured veterans as part of its mission. The Independence Fund is a 501(c) 3 organization. Donations to the group are tax-deductible and help provide injured troops with the tools, therapies and guidance that they might not otherwise receive. The Indy Fund has no paid staff and the Board of Directors is comprised entirely of combat veterans.

Launched in 2011, the Gary Sinise Foundation honors its defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. These include its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment), whose flagship initiative is a custom Smart Home building project for severely wounded veterans. Both through its own efforts and through its Building for America’s Bravest partner program, Gary Sinise Foundation is constructing these one-of-a-kind homes all across the country, each for a wounded hero, their caregivers and family. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Serving Heroes and Arts & Entertainment Outreach. The Gary Sinise Foundation (Federal Tax ID 80-0587086) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity as defined in sections 509(A)(1) and 170(B)(1)(A)(VI) of the Internal Revenue Code. Combined Federal Campaign, CFC #27963. For more information, please visit www.garysinisefoundation.org.

Mobile Aerofest is a multifaceted annual festival to take place at the Mobile Aeroplex on March 20 – 21 2015. The Festival’s mission is to actively improve the lives of America’s injured warriors through a confluence of talent, vision and technology that has never been seen before in the production of a live event.

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