KEY WEST, Fla. - Combat veterans on personal watercraft arrived Friday evening on the shore of Virginia Key with a roar.
Some of them lost legs in combat. Some of them likely saw the horrors of war.
But on this coastal journey to mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, they are teammates. The ride is called the Never Quit Challenge.
"It was amazing. It was something different. Something I've been wanting to do for a long time," said Anthony Radetic, a partially paralyzed Army veteran.
The team of six geared up Friday morning in Key West and plan to make the 1,600-mile trip north up the Atlantic Coast to New York on Sept. 11.
A goal of the ride is to raise money for charities that help veterans, active-duty military, and their families.
With a backdrop of the Miami Marine Stadium to mark the end of the first leg of the trip, the veterans were greeted by friends, families, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and pop singer Gloria Estefan.
"It's very amazing, especially since my dad was a Vietnam vet, and also a veteran of Bay of Pigs in Cuba," Estefan said. "So, vets have a very special place in my heart."
Deerfield Beach resident Becci DuBois, whose son was Navy Special Ops, said the journey is a timely reminder of how important veterans are.
"I think it's so cool that they're going to arrive on New York City on 9/11. I wish I could be there," DuBois said.
"This is a great way to bring it back up of what we are fighting for, and what has happened," Radetic said. "It's good to do it every now and then."
Shawn Alladio is the founder of the project and is a civilian military trainer. She said the trip is as much about patriotism as it is about healing.
"It's kind of like an equalizer. Nobody's out there helping them, telling them what to do. They don't have to ask for help," said Alladio. "So it's sort of the first step of freedom, and being out of the water is, you know, intimidating, challenging, and kind of a great experience."
To track their progress, click here.
Copyright 2013 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.