Here at Activus Connect, we may be built on serving our clients and our Ambassadors, but we’re also dedicated to serving our communities and supporting local causes through corporate social responsibility.
Our goal has always been to inspire forward and create a culture where, through many small actions, we can make a big difference in people’s lives, so when we learned that Warriors 4 Life shared the same values we knew immediately that we wanted to help the cause.
Led by its founder, Jose Santiago, Warriors 4 Life, is a non-profit operating out of Colorado and Puerto Rico that brings military veterans together through cycling. Jose’s main goal with the project is to help those with deep depression, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, brain injuries, or combat-related disabilities.
“Our program is having multiple positive effects on our veterans, such as mental clarity, health improvements, weight loss, and the feeling of connecting better with their families,” said Jose. “Unfortunately, the suicide rate for veterans is very high because many don’t know how to cope with the outside world. Warriors 4 Life is really helping those who struggle to reintegrate with society, ultimately saving lives.”
Teamwork: A Way of Life
Jose started Warriors 4 Life in 2012 as a cycling club for military veterans who needed an outlet to stay active. After three years, the club’s members realized how much cycling together was helping them, both physically and mentally, so they officially became a non-profit organization in 2015.
Jose and his team organize large-scale cycling events in Puerto Rico and Colorado in partnership with several community organizations around the country, including the Veterans Administration. Members of Warriors 4 Life even form teams to participate in cycling events around the country, helping them face new challenges together.
“In the military, everybody works as a team, so people tend to miss that teamwork and camaraderie when they get out,” said Jose. “Our mission is to offer veterans a chance to experience that again by giving them a reason to work together while providing health and wellness through cycling.”
Determination and Remembrance
Two of the non-profit’s biggest events are the Memorial Ride and the Determination Tour. Memorial Ride is held around Memorial Day as a chance to honor the fallen. It’s held in Puerto Rico and includes anywhere from 80 to 150 riders, including veterans, police officers, firefighters, and anyone else who wants to participate.
Also in Puerto Rico, the Determination Tour is a 300-mile ride designed for veterans with disabilities or debilitating diseases. Money raised at this event is donated to an organization that treats cancer, another that treats Parkinson’s, and Warriors 4 Life itself.
“Whatever event we participate in, it’s never about winning the race; it’s about challenging ourselves to fight our PTSD, fight our depression, and complete something together, as a team,” said Jose. “As long as our members are getting out of the house and engaging in some way, that’s a win for us.”
Members of Warriors 4 Life are located all over the United States, with each state having its own group that cycles together regularly. When gathering for the bigger events, Warriors 4 Life covers everything but their flight through donations, sponsorship, and fundraisers. This year, however, a certain pandemic has put everything on hold, but that hasn’t stopped the Warriors.
“Ever since COVID-19 hit we’ve been meeting virtually and cycling in our homes instead of outside,” explained Jose. “With a generous donation from Activus Connect, we were able to purchase smart indoor bike trainers for some of our riders so they can ride at home with the feeling of being outside.”
During their virtual meetups, members joke around, hang out, and talk about anything they want to. The idea is to keep things casual and open to prevent adding any more stress on top of COVID. “If anything, the chance to meet more veterans long-distance could end up being another positive experience for our members,” said Jose.
As a veteran living with PTSD himself, cycling with his battle buddies has been immensely therapeutic for Jose.
“I just want to share those benefits with others like me,” he explained. “Group therapy sessions and psychologist sit-downs don’t work well for all veterans because they feel forced to talk about things. When we’re on our bike we feel free. The experience helps us connect with each other and everything comes out naturally. You can choose whoever you want to talk to in this situation, which is far less tense or stressful than being stuck in a room and sharing our feelings.”
According to Jose, there aren’t many support options or resources for veterans, especially in Puerto Rico, so Warriors 4 Life has been extremely popular in the country. The program even helps disabled riders to obtain adaptive bicycles.
“Once they complete 100 hours of riding, they have a chance to borrow the bike, and eventually qualify for the bike which is purchased by the VA hospital,” said Jose. “This really helps them stay engaged. When a new group comes in, they come back to help with the program and introduce the new riders, so everyone ends up paying it forward big time.”
At Activus Connect, we believe that paying it forward is obligatory for growing companies. One of our CSR goals is to help Puerto Rican communities by supporting initiatives like Warriors 4 Life with donations and offering life-changing careers to the country’s talented workforce, including our brave veterans.