John Alvarez is a “bad-ass one-legged flying pirate.” He is a native of South Florida and a combat veteran, serving 24 years as a Naval Aviator, Air Force Special Operations pilot and Combat Aviation Advisor (CAA). He was the US Military’s first pilot to return to combat duty with a leg amputation. John and his wife of 30 years are peer mentors and advocates for our military severely wounded and their families.
SSG Castillo was raised in Queens, NY, where he was heavily impacted by the attacks of 911 and decided to join the U.S. Army. He did two tours in Iraq, where his truck was hit by an IED, leaving him the sole survivor in his vehicle. Since that time, he has dedicated his blessing to help other wounded warriors. SSG Castillo is training to represent the U.S. in the next Paralympic Games and is currently ranked #1 for Bobsledding.
Lucio Gaytán joined the Army in February of 1996. He served during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan (2004-2008), and then in Okinawa, Japan, before finishing his time in Fort Bragg, NC. He was medically retired after 22 years in service due to a Spinal Cord Injury that occurred in 2005. He was introduced to Adaptive Sports in 2015 and placed 1st with the Handcycle at the 2017 DOD Warrior Games.
Maria Hernandez is an Army Veteran who was medically discharged after serving eight years. She lives in Colorado and spends her free time hiking and volunteering with nonprofits focused on empowering veterans. She is currently studying for a career in accounting (completely new to her), and emphasizes that it has been a long road from recovery to education and living a life that is fulfilling.
Corey Jernigan is a native of Macon, Georgia, He joined the Navy right out of high school, where he excelled and moved through the ranks. Corey has worked in trauma centers in Los Angeles and deployed to Iraq treating a wide range of casualties. Corey suffered a severe brain injury in 2019 and is currently attached to wounded warrior battalion receiving treatment while starting events for Veteran Entrepreneurs.
Ariel Phillips was a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force at this time last year. Today, her life has been forever changed and she is a bartender at a craft beer bar. She loves adventures and experiencing new things, and is currently enrolled in college, working toward a B.S. in Computer Science. She’s looking forward to the 2019 Road Warrior Ride as an escape that will contribute to her positive direction in life.
Armando White is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran that served in 2004-2005. Since returning, he maximizes his time with his wife of nine years and two-year-old daughter. He is thankful to be part of the 2019 Road Warrior Ride, and is looking forward to this experience helping him with his anxiety and PTSD. We’re confident this will be an incredible escape for him as he spends time with like-minded individuals.
Sgt. Jorge Zapata joined the Marines in 2003, specializing in Combat Engineering. His duties involved breaching, bridging, base fortification, and demolition. His team provided support during mounted and dismounted patrols finding and neutralizing IEDs. Also, finding and destroying weapon caches and any kind of urban demolition during missions. In November 2006, he was wounded by an IED blast, and has been focused on overcoming his internal and external injuries since that time.