Monthly Archives: June 2014

Canada-U.S. veterans ride hits Wyoming Valley

Cyclists en route from Ottawa to Washington

By Steve Mocarsky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

American Legion Hall welcome sign.
The American Legion Hall welcomed the team. Photograph by Van Brison.

June 28, Wilkes-Barre, PA — Some are blind. Some have artificial limbs. A few of them still can’t sit with their back to a door because of post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, they’re on a nearly 800-mile bicycle and hand cycle trek to the nation’s capitol.

And they all stopped in the Wyoming Valley on Friday to have dinner and catch some shut-eye.

Twenty disabled veterans from Denmark, Canada and the United States were joined by about 10 able-bodied vets to participate in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge — a two-week bike ride that started in Ottawa, Ontario and will culminate in Washington, D.C. on July 4.

Marina Libro receives a helping hand on a climb.
Veteran Marina Libro receives a hand on a steep climb June 28. Photograph by Van Brinson.

World T.E.A.M. Sports, the organization collaborating with Soldier On Canada and Wounded Warriors Canada to put on the 766-mile ride, chose Best Western Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre as a dinner stop, and the Hilton Garden Inn in Wilkes-Barre Township for the group’s overnight accommodations as the cyclists pass through this part of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Amanda Salvo, Hilton Garden Inn sales manager, said the hotel is providing discounted stays and breakfasts and free drinks at the bar to the cyclists. “What they’re doing is unbelievable; the amount of endurance and stamina they have to go 700-plus miles is remarkable. We’re very honored and proud they chose to stay with us.”

Read the full story at the Times-Leader web site.

500 mile marker.
The CanAm team passed 500 miles on June 29. Photograph by Van Brinson.

The Inspiration of the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge

By Richard Rhinehart

June 29, 2014, Reading, Pennsylvania – World T.E.A.M. Sports videographer and Pomfret School Junior Austin Galusza provides a short video about the inspiration of the inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge.

With 16 participating injured veterans and nine able-bodied riders from the United States, Canada and Denmark, the Challenge provides inspiration to bicyclists both disabled and able-bodied.

The team reached Reading Pennsylvania the afternoon of June 29. Monday, June 30 is a rest day for the team. On Tuesday, July 1, the riders begin the final stretch of four days riding, beginning with a ride to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and ending with the triumphant arrival at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. July 4.

Ride along with Veteran Jens Sondergaard

By Richard Rhinehart

June 27, 2014, Binghamton, New York – World T.E.A.M. Sports’ CanAm Veterans’ Challenge team is riding south into Pennsylvania today, leaving behind New York state on their nearly 800 mile journey from the Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario to the Capitol of the United States in Washington, D.C.

Jens Sondergaard and his hand cycle.
Jens Sondergaard on his hand cycle June 26. Photograph by Brinson Langley.

Today’s ride to Wilkes-Barre, in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley along the Susquehanna River, is the longest of the two-week CanAm, at 90 miles. There is a 20 percent chance of showers in the afternoon, with a high in the mid-80s, so undoubtedly the riders will prefer to reach their evening hotel in Wilkes-Barre prior to any precipitation.

To experience what the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge offers to the participants, ride along with Danish veteran Jens Sondergaard, who uses his Wolturnus hand cycle. He’s posted a short YouTube video showing the excitement of a fast downhill run with little traffic, other than a fellow team member.

As always, follow the team along on the ride with our live GPS tracking page.

Veterans Head South from Cooperstown

By Richard Rhinehart

Cooperstown, New York, June 26, 2014 – Veteran riders with World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge climbed onto their bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bicycles this morning for a 77-mile ride south and west to Binghamton, New York. One of the longest days of riding on the schedule for the CanAm team, the riders were on the road early to beat expected thunderstorms in the late afternoon.

Chris Levi and the riders depart Cooperstown.
Veteran Chris Levi and other CanAm Veterans’ Challenge riders depart Cooperstown, New York, June 26. Photograph by Brinson Langley.

Incorporated in 1834, the southern New York city at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers, Binghamton and “the Valley of Opportunity” is home to a quarter million residents. CanAm riders will travel along New York Highway 7 through Oneonta, Sidney and Bainbridge to downtown Washington to the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel for their overnight accommodations.

During Wednesday’s day of rest, the team visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, exploring the various exhibits detailing Major League Baseball’s long history.

On Friday, the team will undertake another long ride – the ride’s longest – 90 miles from Binghamton to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

CanAm Veterans' Challenge team at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown hosted the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge team on June 25. Photograph courtesy Brad Horn, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Veterans, riders receive warm greeting

By Nicole A. Elliott, Rome Sentinel

June 24, 2014 Rome, New York – “Welcome to Rome!”

Bystanders adorned in patriotic red, white and blue, some waving American flags and flashing signs, shouted cheers of encouragement and good wishes as about 27 injured veterans and supporters cycled down West Chestnut Street Monday afternoon.

Rome was among the several small-town stops on a 14-day bicycle trip from Canada to Washington, D.C. by the team of veterans representing three countries — the United States, Canada and Denmark.

Welcoming poster in Rome.
A welcoming poster greeted riders as they arrived in Rome, New York. Photograph courtesy Rome Sentinel.

They were treated to a spaghetti dinner by Rome Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and then enjoyed a hot shower and comfortable bed overnight at the Wingate Hotel at Griffiss Business and Technology Park.

The contingent included 16 injured veterans biking with nine able-bodied riders, also accompanied by support staff in some vehicles, according to the World T.E.A.M. Sports organization, which coordinated the event. The nearly 800-mile trip was geared to build awareness and provide inspiration.

Participants include veterans who served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among their disabilities are loss of limb, paralysis, post-traumatic stress, brain injuries, and blindness in some cases.

Two able-bodied riders are serving as pilots for blind veterans using tandem bicycles, according to World T.E.A.M. Sports.

“The ride does two things: It provides people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in an athletic event of this magnitude and it allows communities to observe people with disabilities and highlights the fact that their disabilities could be merely nuisances and can easily be overcome,” said World T.E.A.M. Chief Executive Officer Van Brinson.

Read the full story at the Rome Sentinel website.

Images from the Ride

By Richard Rhinehart

June 25, Cooperstown, New York – Riders in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge take a well-deserved day of rest today in Cooperstown, an east-central New York community of nearly 1,900 residents. Located along the Susquehanna River, Cooperstown is best-known as the home for the popular National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

With overcast skies and a strong chance for afternoon thundershowers, it is a good day for the team to relax and enjoy the sights of this historic village established in 1786. Celebrating its’ 75th anniversary this year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is likely destination. Riders may also visit other attractions and businesses, including the historic downtown.

Tomorrow is the start of three long days of riding, with an 82 mile ride to Binghamton. Friday is the longest daily ride of this year’s CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, a 90 mile ride to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Saturday will be a little shorter, with a 75 mile ride to Pottsville, along the Schuylkill River.

With today’s day of rest, here are a few images from the last few days of riding, offered by several photographers.

Bike on the border.
Participating Colorado veteran Scott Bates’ bicycle near the Canada-United States border on June 22. Photograph courtesy of Scott Bates.

Mayor Joseph Fusco Jr. and Van Brinson.
Rome, New York Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. (left) stands with World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson June 23. Photograph courtesy Kristin Clark, Rome Observer.

Dean Peach, Dan Bodden and Marina Libro.
Nova Scotia veteran Dean Peach and Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt Dan Bodden provide assistance to Virginia veteran Marina Libro on June 24. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Michael Cavanaugh, Michael Fuentespina and David Santamore.
Long Island, New York rider Michael Cavanaugh and WInnipeg, Manitoba veteran Michael Fuentespina give a hand to Barre, Vermont veteran David Santamore on June 24, as the team headed to Cooperstown, New York. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Wounded veterans bike through the north country en route to D.C.

by Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers

June 24, 2014, Lowville, New York – A group of about 25 bicyclists — including 16 injured American, Canadian and Danish veterans — passed through Jefferson and Lewis counties this week as part of a nearly 800-mile ride from Ottawa to Washington, D.C.

Courtney Chambliss and Dean Peach.
CanAm Veterans’ Challenge staff member Courtney Chambliss gives the thumbs up while she and Canadian veteran Dean Peach ride through downtown Lowville on June 23. Photograph courtesy Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers.

“It’s awesome,” said Jose Santiago of Colorado, a former Army combat medic who served two tours in Iraq, during a stop for rest and cellphone pictures in Lowville on Monday, the fourth day of the inaugural, 14-day CanAm Veterans’ Challenge.

“You can’t ask for better weather,” said fellow Colorado resident Scott Bates.

Mr. Bates, a Navy veteran, said in a release before the ride that he looked at the event as a way to recover from his service-related injuries. “Cycling itself can even be looked at as a metaphor,” he said. “While you may not be the fastest or most talented, if you are persistent and do not give up, you will cover vast distances sooner than you realize.”

The group, which departed from the steps of the Canadian Parliament on Friday morning, stayed overnight Sunday at the Holiday Inn in Watertown after eating at the Ponderosa Steakhouse, according to Richard Rhinehart, director of communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports, Holbrook, which is organizing the ride.

Read the full story at the Watertown Daily Times web site.

Scott Bates, Harry Carr and Jose Santiago.
From left, Colorado veteran Scott Bates , New Hampshire veteran Harry Carr and Colorado veteran Jose Santiago pause for a moment in downtown Lowville on June 23. Photograph courtesy Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers.

 

Dan Bodden, Harry Carr, Marina Libro, Scott Bates and Jose Santiago.
A group of CanAm Veterans’ Challenge riders gather in Lowville, New York, on route to Rome. From left, British Columbia veteran Dan Bodden, New Hampshire veteran Harry Carr, Virginia veteran Marina Libro, Virginia, and Colorado veterans Scott Bates and Jose Santiago. Photograph courtesy Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers.

Wounded warriors cycle into Rome

By Dave Gymburch, Rome Sentinel

June 23, 2014, Rome, New York – A 14-day bicycle trip from Canada to Washington, D.C. by a team of injured veterans from three countries was to arrive in Rome this afternoon for dinner and an overnight stay.

Rome Daily Sentinel
The June 23 Rome Daily Sentinel prominently featured the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge on its front page. Photograph by Scott Bates.

The approximately 40-person contingent includes 16 injured veterans biking with nine able-bodied riders, also accompanied by support staff in some vehicles, according to the World T.E.A.M. Sports organization which is coordinating the event. The veterans making the nearly 800-mile trip, geared to build awareness and provide inspiration, are from the U.S., Canada and Denmark.

The Rome Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2246 was preparing to host dinner for the group, which left Ottawa Friday and came to Watertown Sunday. The travelers were to stay tonight at the Wingate Hotel in Rome, with rooms funded by World T.E.A.M. Sports, and on Tuesday will head for Cooperstown. Arrival in Washington, D.C., is scheduled for July 4.

Hosting dinner for the group is “an honor,” said Willie Fletcher, past commander of Rome VFW and currently VFW 4th District commander for an 8-county area. The Rome site was contacted by World T.E.A.M. Sports which asked about providing some food for the riders, and “we jumped on it,” he said.

Read the full story at the Rome Sentinel website.