Aaron Harper

Aaron HarperOriginal hometown: Rochester, NY

Current hometown: Weddington, NC

Employer: Carolinas HealthCare System

Position/title: Military & Veterans Affairs Manager

Veteran status and Branch of service: Medically Retired, United States Marine Corps

Years of service: 1988-1993

Rank: Sergeant, USMC

Military Occupation: Air Traffic Controller

Last unit: Marine Air Traffic Control Squadron 28, Detachment Bravo – The Bogue Rats

Deployments: Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Cease Fire and Provide Comfort

Any military/veteran connection or are you riding in honor of a military member/veteran?

AH:  With over 4 generations of Marine war veterans in my family, it is my honor to cycle for them and for all of my brothers and sisters who have, are and will serve our country.

How long have you been physically challenged?

AH:  25 years

Mode of ambulation?

AH:  Ambulatory – orthopedic challenges due to four vertebral fusions.

Personal reason for making the ride?

AH:  For many years, I have dreamed about the opportunity to cycle across country.  I had a chance to do this with a friend in 1997 but couldn’t due to my work schedule.  This year, we have the opportunity to complete this dream but it’s much bigger than me and my goals.  My fellow cyclists and I have this incredible opportunity to be a team and cycle together“…from sea to shining sea”. 

Message to others with physical challenges about the benefits of participation in Adaptive Sports.

AH:  From the movie Platoon, “I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. And the enemy was in us… But, be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what’s left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.”  When we have the opportunity to help others, we help ourselves.  We will cycle together, as athletes of all types of abilities and challenges, from seas to shining sea to demonstrate and teach to others what we know because this is the goodness and meaning for all of our lives. Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)!!!

Aaron’s 2016 Fuji Gran Fondo 2.0 endurance bicycle and gear was provided by Performance Bike of Charlotte through a grant from the Independence Fund.