Veterans and Families Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of September 11th in UTVs
Story By: Mike Shatynski
Photos Provided By: Warfighter Made
On Saturday, September 11, 2021, Americans gathered across the country to remember and reflect on the events of 20 years ago that forever changed them and their country.
The veterans, friends, and family of the veteran non-profit Warfighter Made chose to spend the 20th anniversary together; to remember those lost and to celebrate their bonds forged in the subsequent years.
The mission of Warfighter Made (WFM) is to provide adaptive motorsports and adrenaline therapy for America’s veterans. Over 200 veterans and family members gathered at Wrecked Fence Off Road Park in Anza Valley, CA, for another “Adrenaline Therapy Saturday” sponsored by BF Goodrich using WFM’s fleet of Polaris RZR UTV’s.
The day started with a short 9/11 remembrance led by Warfighter Made’s founder and President, Rob Blanton, a retired Force Recon Marine and Silver Star medal awardee. Rob noted that, in the aftermath of that tragic attack on our country, the best of American spirit came to the fore. He recognized all the post-911 veterans and families in attendance because, “They stepped up to serve when they knew that it meant fighting terrorism in faraway lands.”
Next, something truly special happened. A veteran Marine, Sergeant Eddie Wright, was asked to step forward. Eddie was presented a 2021 Polaris RZR Pro XP Ultimate specially adapted for him by Warfighter Made. Eighteen months after 9/11, Eddie was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor in a battle overseas where he was severely wounded. Despite losing both his hands, Eddie recovered and rehabilitated to become the first double amputee to serve on active duty.
After a safety brief, Eddie and the rest of the veterans took to the track. Those veterans who had never driven a UTV before were given a short practical course on UTV driving and safety. Other veterans and professional drivers who brought their own machines began taking warmup laps. By lunchtime, all the veterans were making their own laps around the track while family members rode along as co-driver with the professional racers.
During a short lunch break, a catered meal sponsored by DSS Inc. was provided by a local veteran-owned and operated restaurant, Bastards Cantina. The great food was washed down by cold drinks provided by two other veteran-owned and operated companies, Bulkhead Energy and the Defiance Offroad coffee shop. The Warfighter Made RZRs and other vehicles were soon back on the track.
Experienced UTV riders know that there is no better day that a day with family in the dirt in a UTV. It follows naturally that there is no better way for vets to heal than to spend a day like “Adrenaline Therapy Saturday”. WFM’s Rob Blanton knows first-hand that it makes a difference. “We lose 22 vets a day to suicide. As a suicide survivor, I know that I need to spend time with my military brothers and sisters and get out of my own head for a while to stay healthy. We get to do both here on the track in our Polaris RZR’s.”
Harold Philips, Global Business Leader at BFGoodrich and a “Gold Star” brother, is an enthusiastic supporter of Warfighter Made and brought some of his co-workers who are veterans to the track. According to Harold, “BFG has focused on hiring and supporting veterans. I can see the difference that it has made today for our veterans to be out here in the dirt with their brothers and sisters.” Harold added, “Our tires are the best, designed and built by driving enthusiasts, so it made sense to make sure that WFM veterans and family members are all riding safely on BFGs on the WFM UTVs.”
Pit support was provided for the WFM UTVs and the professional race vehicles by another non-profit organization, the Magnificent 7 Race Team or MAG 7. MAG 7 has been providing pit support to Baja racers since 1967. According to Bill Thompson, the team President and a veteran, “Many of our MAG 7 members are veterans. We find that the brotherhood of supporting racers in the desert is our own special kind of therapy. This has been a great day!”
The 9/11 anniversary celebration epitomized the Warfighter Made moto, “Inspire. Adapt. Overcome.” Veterans are encouraged to visit Warfighter Made online to find out more about participating in Adrenaline Therapy Saturdays and other WFM projects and events. Everyone is invited to visit online to find out how to support the veterans of Warfighter Made. Visit soon so you don’t miss the next Adrenaline Therapy Saturday on October 2nd!