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Mark Gutierrez, a combat veteran with the U.S. Navy, rode through San Clemente last week as part of his cross-country cycling trek meant to support the work and efforts of the veteran advocacy group Project Hero.

This past May, the retired Naval officer, who was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as an explosive ordnance disposal officer, began his cycling expedition in Washington, D.C., covering about 6,000 miles. He concluded his journey in San Diego on Sunday, Nov. 24.

Gutierrez’s cross-county tour was largely about saying thanks to his fellow Armed Forces veterans while also raising awareness and funding for Project Hero—a nonprofit that benefits veterans and first responders struggling with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“Please follow me on my adventure down, across, and around this beautiful country to raise funds for an organization that helps our veterans and first responders get their lives back,” Gutierrez wrote in a press release prior to his latest mission.

As of Saturday, Nov. 23, Gutierrez had raised $7,137—about 47% of his fundraising goal.

In the release, Gutierrez notes that after his deployments in the Middle East, he began to exhibit symptoms of TBI and PTSD.

“Unfortunately, this put an end to my Naval career,” he said in the release. “I learned about Project Hero while receiving treatment at Walter Reed, and was able to see the impact the organization had on wounded warriors. Moved by their mission, I wanted to help them any way I could.”

Project Hero was founded in 2008 and has worked to assist more than 10,000 veterans and first responders by helping them rehabilitate and recover in their daily lives while also increasing the awareness of the national mental health crisis. 

For additional information on Project Hero, head to weareprojecthero.org. To donate to Gutierrez’s fundraiser, go to r2r.convio.net/goto/mark.

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