This article is supplied by Raytheon
It's quite a challenge to get from Atlanta to New Orleans on a bicycle.
Taking on such challenges is how Kelly McDonald rolls.
McDonald, who works at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Largo, Florida, volunteers for Ride 2 Recovery and Project HERO – cycling events that support wounded warfighters.
Last year, McDonald spent 320 hours on charitable efforts, and earned a Silver U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Now Kelly has been recognized by Fortune magazine, who included a profile of the Raytheon volunteer in its annual section "Heroes of the Fortune 500."
McDonald has participated in four Ride 2 Recovery challenge rides. The latest was that trek from Atlanta to New Orleans in March, where she rode alongside wounded Army veterans. Yet the most memorable may have been her second challenge ride the year before.
On that occasion, she piloted Lt. Col. (ret.) Kathy Champion on a tandem bicycle on the Gulf Coast Challenge Ride from New Orleans to Tallahassee. Champion, who had lost her sight as a result of her service in Iraq, had never been a cyclist, and McDonald had never worked a tandem bike before they started training together.
"We trained together for five months and rode every single mile of that challenge, becoming the very first all-female tandem team to do so in Ride 2 Recovery history," Kelly said.
As a result of her dedication, McDonald was invited to Ride 2 Recovery's Project HERO Training Camp, a train-the-trainer program meant to help military men and women and Veterans Administration employees establish local cycling programs to help wounded veterans. She was one of only two non-military, non-VA employees in the training camp.
McDonald helped to establish a local Ride 2 Recovery Project HERO in her Pinellas County community. It's been so successful that the VA is referring veterans to the program for the beneficial effects of cycling. The group has grown into one of the largest Project HERO has in the country, often averaging well over 20 riders each Thursday.
Kelly embodies Project HERO's slogan, "Leave no rider behind," with her unwavering focus on helping those that need help. Click here to read her profile in Fortune.
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