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How a Ride on a Can-Am Spyder Changed One Female Veteran’s Life

Adventure therapy on the open road helps heal PTSD

By Janice Godwin, Managing Editor
11/30/2017

After her tour in Afghanistan with military police and combat support, motorcyclist Jessy Baxley thought she could just return to her “normal” life. Instead, she became more and more withdrawn.

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how a ride on a can-am spyder changed one female veterans life road warriors foundation
Jessy Baxley experienced the trip of a lifetime on a Can-Am Spyder.

“I didn’t give myself time to process all that happened to me, physically and emotionally. My brother recognized symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in me and suggested a trip with the Road Warriors,” said Jessy, a U.S. Army Reservist who received a Combat Action Badge for her injuries. Although she rode a motorcycle before, she had not ridden a Can-Am Spyder.


Since 2013, Road Warriors Foundation along with sponsorship from BRP Can-Am Spyder, has offered all-expense-paid annual adventure therapy trips to veterans suffering from PTSD. This year’s journey was a seven-day 1,500-mile trip from Austin, Texas, to Charleston, South Carolina, through some of the most scenic passages in the southern United States.

how a ride on a can-am spyder changed one female veterans life cherahola parkway
Fantastic foliage on the ride through the Cherahola Parkway that is part of the National Scenic Byway and National Forest Scenic Byway. It connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee, to Robbinsville, North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. The group enjoyed every curve for the nearly 60 miles. If you haven’t been there, go check it out.

“I tried group therapy, but sitting around in a group did not help me. Being on the open road, being greeted as a hero in town after town, and connecting with other vets was the most powerful therapy for me,” Jessy explains. As a civilian, Jessy is a paramedic and patient care technician for children with special needs.


Taking on Life Again—Road Warriors on Spyders

Most of the veterans who participate in the annual adventure therapy trips have little or no experience on a motorcycle and some just received their M endorsement a few weeks before the ride. Jessy was an exception. She had ridden a motorcycle for 10 years, but sold it before her deployment. BRP has donated Can-Am Spyders and support staff for the rides since the beginning.

how a ride on a can-am spyder changed one female veterans life road warriors
What a site to see, one Spyder after another on this ride.

“Spyders are perfect for this trip,” explains Craig Anders, one of the founders of Road Warrior Foundation. “They take very little time to learn to ride and allow riders to feel more stable and confident once they set out on the open road. The trip opens the vets up to new things, gives them control again and pushes them beyond their comfort zone.”

The Road Warriors Foundation is staffed with all volunteers, many who are still active in the military, like Craig.


how a ride on a can-am spyder changed one female veterans life road warriors police escort
Many communities gave the group a police escort on their Can-Am Spyders. Big thanks to BRP Can-Am, a Canadian company that is honoring our U.S. vets!

Motorcycling is About Freedom and the Open Road

“All of the veterans are young—in their 20s and 30s—and have experienced far too much already in their lives,” said Brian Manning, director for BRP Can-Am Spyder public relations and part of the adventure therapy ride support staff. “We all know the therapeutic feeling of hitting the open road with friends. This is a chance for us to bring that same joy and freedom to these deserving people. It was incredible watching them each transform during the event while working together as a group.”

Another volunteer on the trip was Joan Bryden a member of Girls on Spyders. This is the third Road Warrior trip she and her husband have taken. “These veterans oftentimes show up looking down at their feet, but they leave a different person. They see communities along the way supporting them. They learn that they are not alone or forgotten. Motorcycling is about freedom and the open road. These are the young men and women defending those freedoms.”

how a ride on a can-am spyder changed one female veterans life community welcome event
People gathered along the route to support the veterans. Many Can-Am owners joined in the group as they went through their towns.

For more information, to donate to Road Warriors Foundation, or be ride support, visit RoadWarrior.org.

Related Stories
Can-Am Spyder Reviews on WRN
Backroads With Betsy: The Last Love Ride Celebrates Veterans

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