(Above: Matt Muzzi on Juno Beach, June 2014.)
Stittsville resident Matt Muzzi is training to take part in his second Battlefield Bikeride, a fundraising bike tour to raise money and awareness for Canadian Armed Forces veterans who face challenges from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other injuries.
Muzzi was part of a group of veterans who cycled over 700km from Juno Beach to Vimy Ridge last year, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars as a group. This year, he’ll start from where they left off at Vimy Ridge and visit the sites of many Canadian battle sites including Paschendale , Ypres, Bruges and sites significant to the liberation of the Netherlands.
Muzzi is a 50-year-old retired military medic who lives in Stittsville with his wife and three children. He was part of the Canadian Forces (CF) for nearly ten years in the 1980s and 90s, but a bad knee prevented him from any overseas tours. He says it was difficult to watch his colleagues and friends travel to conflict zones like Bosnia and the Gulf War, so this is one way that he could support his fellow soldiers.
“I got involved with the ride last year because I had always wanted to do something with Wounded Warriors Canada, was on their website and saw this opportunity,” he says. “I am also a military history fan so that, combined with the cause and my previous service, made this a perfect match.”
“Imagine getting a firsthand look and walking in the steps of great Canadian soldiers from both World Wars! To add to this, you are doing it with current and past serving members of the CF.”
Battlefield Bikeride raises money as part of Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Armed Forces members (regular force and reservists) who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada. Their primary focus is on mental health and the staggering impact PTSD, perpetrated by operational stress injuries (OSI).
Muzzi says some of the riders have been injured while on duty and have OSI’s such as PTSD. The ride can serve as a form of therapy for them. “We even had six riders from several branches of the Australian forces with us riding for their Soldier On program which does similar things support vets that Wounded Warriors does. Some of them are coming back this year as well.”
“I still have many friends that serve and some that suffer with PTSD. I think it’s important to do everything we can to ensure a healthy and smooth transition for our soldiers that are suffering from PTSD, back into regular society. I want to do as much as I can to continue to help these amazing soldiers and show them that their sacrifices are appreciated. What they have done, in the past, present and future, can’t be forgotten.”
Training for the ride consists of a variety of techniques. He does cross fit training twice a week as well as riding on a bike trainer in the winter and going to the gym.
“I am trying to eat well but because I am a lazy eater. This is my biggest area of struggle! Thankfully my wife likes to cook and she makes healthy meals. I still snack way too much though,” he says.
He’s also reading up on the military history of the various sites he’ll be visiting on the tour, to get a better understanding of what soldiers went through during war.
You can support his fundraising efforts for Wounded Warriors Canada by visiting his fundraising page.