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Soldier Ride cycles 22 miles from Babylon

A prayer is said before the start of

A prayer is said before the start of the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride, aimed at boosting the morale of injured veterans. The 22-mile ride from Babylon Town Hall in Lindenhurst to Overlook Beach attracted about 1,100 participants, many of whom rode modified bikes. (July 20, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Most of his legs lost in a blast in February in Afghanistan, Marine Corporal Garrett Carnes powered his bike along the 22-mile route -- from the Babylon Town Hall to Overlook beach -- with his hands and arms.

Carnes was one of about 1,100 participants in the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride hosted Friday morning by the Town of Babylon.

Among the riders were members of the Israeli Defense League, injured British soldiers, and Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive and former Babylon town supervisor.

Suffolk County staff waited at the beach with grilled hot dogs and burgers. The 10 cyclists pedaling with their hands brought up the rear, finishing about 1 p.m. to cheers and honking fire trucks.

"It was tiring, but we were all doing it together," said Carnes, 22, of Port Jefferson.

The Wounded Warrior project is an international group offering rehabilitation services to military personnel. It specifically focuses on the generation of veterans injured after 9-11, said Al Giordano, one of the founders of the project, which holds summer ride events in 16 other cities. This was the fifth annual ride in Babylon.

"We don't want veterans sitting in bars in the middle of the day drinking dollar-beer," said Giordano. "We want them working and mentally healthy."

Carnes received a text message Friday afternoon from his best friend, U.S. Marine Corporal Matthew Gusty, 26, of North Versailles, Pennsylvania, who was also hit by the explosive that injured Carnes: "Your positive attitude has helped me recover," he wrote.

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