|The Hero's Welcome from 2013's Soldier Ride.|
On Friday, January 9th, Dolphin Research Center will host the annual Charles Evans Day for the Wounded Warrior Project, welcoming Soldier Ride when the adaptive cycling event comes through the Florida Keys. For the sixth year in a row, the cyclists and their support group will stop at DRC where upwards of 60 soldiers will enjoy a Dolphin Encounter dolphin swim free of charge, thanks to the generosity of the Charles Evans Foundation. The group is expected to arrive between 2:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to join DRC staff and volunteers as they line up to give a hero’s welcome to the participants. Admission to DRC is free for current members. Other visitors can pay general admission or become members with their donations when they get to DRC.
These soldiers are coping with life-altering injuries to body, mind and spirit, including amputations, burns, traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. To watch them leave their troubles behind on land for a joyful time swimming with dolphins inspires all who see the experience. For many of the participants, the dolphin swim further empowers them as they courageously battle the physical and psychological damages of war.
The Charles Evans Day for the Wounded Warrior Project at Dolphin Research Center is truly a community event. Before the Dolphin Encounter, they will enjoy a delicious lunch catered by La Trattoria of Key West and desserts baked by DRC volunteers. Captain Hook’s Dive Shop, Marathon, loans them wetsuits and life vests. After the swim, the soldiers also receive complimentary photos and a sterling silver replica charm of Jax the dolphin’s tail flukes, designed by Custom Tails jewelry.
Dolphin Research Center is committed to supporting veterans and active duty personnel from all branches of the United States military. Throughout the year, the organization provides
programs not only for the wounded warriors, but also for caregivers of the injured, family of active duty personnel, and families who have lost a loved one serving in the war.