Published November 04, 2010
Forty-two days and 3,300 miles later, the SEALs Bike America Team will cross the finish line on Saturday to conclude its epic cross-country journey across America.
The team of five has pedaled its way through eight states -- all the way from Coronado, Calif., where Navy SEALs begin their training, to Ft. Pierce, Fla.
Riding with a purpose, the group hopes to raise over $100,000 for the Naval Special Warfare Foundation -- an organization that provides tragedy assistance and family support for the Naval Special Warfare community.
Despite grueling 90-mile-a-day rides, these patriots say they have been happy to pedal across the country for this cause, because it’s for their fellow SEALs and families who have devoted their lives to serving the country.
"The modern day SEALs and their families, the special boat teams and the support personnel of Naval Special Warfare and their families are repeatedly asked to make extraordinary sacrifices during ongoing conflicts," said Michael Badger, a former SEAL and SEALs Bike America participant. "Our fundraising ride is the least we can do to support their efforts."
Speakers at the event will include Admiral Eric T. Olson, Commander of U. S. Special Operations; Florida Rep. Tom Rooney; U.S. Navy SEAL Medal of Honor recipient Michael Thornton; and Astronaut Christopher Cassidy.
They will be greeted with a hero’s welcome during the Navy National SEAL Museum Muster XXV, which is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of SEALs and other Naval Special Warfare operators from the 1940s to the present with. As many as 7,000 people are expected to attend.
“There will be amazing military special operations displays with the Blackhawks and swift water boats, a 5K beach run, a Memorial dedication and many other activities. “ Jason Sickels of Formula Sports Group said.
The team has endured dreadful heat, long mountain climbs, a relentless pace and extreme fatigue while riding approximately eight to 10 hours a day, averaging 550 miles a week.
But that's nothing, Badger said.
“Our efforts pale in comparison to what our active duty men and women face every day. My hat's off to everyone who puts on that uniform," he said.
Along the way, the team has taken time to fuel up on food and water and to catch a few Z's in several cities, often sleeping in campgrounds. On one of their last legs, the bikers stopped in Southern Mississippi and were greeted by police officers, firefighters, and other well-wishers.
The race started off on a somber note -- three Navy Seals were among 9 Americans killed in Afghanistan when a Black Hawk Helicopter crashed the week before. At their midpoint in Austin, Texas, the team took the time to honor these three men.
"As a Vietnam-era former SEAL, I appreciate all of our men and women making the conscious decision to serve their country," Badger said. "My son-in-law is with Army special forces and is deployed, so my family sees firsthand how a deployment impacts a wife and children."
The Naval Special Warfare Foundation was created in 2000, and its mission in serving the U.S. Navy SEALs and their families has been made more important and more difficult as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Foundation provides support for the U.S. Navy SEALs, the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, and families of Naval Special Warfare through a number of programs. The Health and Welfare programs for the families provide tragedy assistance when a loved one is killed, assistance to active duty personnel wounded in combat, and family events to support the families and commands within Naval Special Warfare.
Another initiative of the foundation is to provide education and motivation, promoting learning and advancement within the community for active duty personnel and their families. In conjunction with these education programs, the Foundation also seeks to perpetuate the rich history and tradition by funding monuments and memorials, as well as co-publishing “The Blast,” a quarterly journal of Naval Special Warfare highlighting past and present commandos.
Click here to visit the Naval Special Warfare Foundation website.
Click here to donate and read more on the SEALs Bike America Journey.
Foxnews.com's Meghan Baker contributed to this report.