VMI cadets Keith MacDonald, Ryan Long, Schafer Wymond, and Travis Via got one last practice in Friday before they embark on a "modest" 102-mile bike ride.
"It's really mental," Wymond said. "You gotta be ready for it."
They're riding in the Martin's Tour of Richmond Saturday and have put many hours and miles on their bikes to prepare. But they say what they've done is small compared to what our armed forces do daily, so they're riding to raise money for a charity called the Semper Fi Fund, which provides financial help to soldiers who return home with physical or mental disabilities, or in dire financial straits.
"We liked Semper Fi because 96 percent of their donations go directly to assisting these veterans," said Long, who organized the team.
They've already raised $7,200 and are accepting donations on their website through Sunday.
"That's pretty cool," Wymond said. "I've only been here for a year and a half, and for me, to be able to bring myself closer to the Institute, that hits close to me."
In addition to raising funds, the cadets are riding in memory of the 15 VMI graduates who have died serving our country since 9/11.
"They're an important part of what the school is about and what we're all about," MacDonald said.
They say that's what will motivate them to get across the finish line. And while this is only the first or second time they've done anything like this, they're optimistic it won't be the last.
"Eventually we'd like this to continue on through other classes so then one day they're giving back when we're out there serving," Via said.
If you'd like help the cadets raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, you can make a donation by visiting their website.