Holbrook, New York, November 17 2014 – Air Force Veteran Harry Carr is featured in a newly-released video released by New England non-profit organization Northeast Passage.
The short video on YouTube features Carr, a visually-impaired rider who participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ June, 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge. Carr also has participated in other events from World T.E.A.M. Sports, including the annual Face of America ride from the Pentagon to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the 2013 Adventure Team Challenge in western Colorado.
Despite his visual disability, Carr remains very active in outdoor sports, including cycling and water sports. He is interested in participating in the next cross-country Sea to Shining Sea ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports, tentatively scheduled for 2016 or 2017.
“I have participated in a couple of multi-day century rides since the 2014 CanAm and am preparing for winter indoor training,” reports Carr, who is spending part of the winter in Florida. Carr also intends to participate in the April 24-26 Face of America ride, from the Pentagon to Gettysburg, hosted by World T.E.A.M. Sports.
Birmingham, Alabama, October 29, 2014 – Jeff Henson has been riding bikes for years. In 2012, he rode a bike coast to coast across the United States. Before that, the Army veteran did a long bike ride in France, and several in the American Northwest, always on a tandem bike and always from the back seat. He was not allowed to ride on the front seat, the steering seat.
Jeff Henson was legally blind during those rides.
Henson, a native of Heflin, Alabama, who served as a demolition specialist in the Army for nine years, developed vision issues caused by arthritis and inflammation that first struck his right eye in 2000.
“I woke up one morning and I had this really bad headache,” Henson recalled. “My eye was watering so much that I couldn’t control the tears running down my face, and my head was hurting so bad I couldn’t stand for my wife to walk on the floor. Every time she took a step, I felt like my head was going to explode.”
His vision rapidly deteriorated. About a month later, the same thing happened to his left eye. In short order, Henson lost all vision in the right eye, while his left eye fell to 20/200.
“I didn’t have any vision at all,” he said. “I was at the point where I was running into doors; I couldn’t see steps and would just run into walls. It was pretty life-changing.”
Henson went through rehabilitation for the blind and received mobility training. He got a white cane and Chauncey, a service dog. And he started riding bikes. He rode with veterans groups that held rides for disabled servicemen and women. But he had to ride tandem, on the back seat.
“I always wanted to ride by myself, but of course I couldn’t,” he said.
August 12, Barre, Vermont – Returning home following nearly 800 miles of riding from Ottawa, Ontario to Washington, D.C. in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, Marine Corps veteran David Santamore was surprised to see a large wooden crate in his driveway. Opening the crate, he discovered within a well-cared-for red Force 2 hand cycle, courtesy of Columbus, Ohio cyclist Paul Martin.
“I was very blessed to recover from an injury that we thought would sideline me from cycling and wanted to be a blessing to someone else who may not ever be able to have the outcome I had,” explained Martin of his generous donation. “In particular, I hoped my hand cycle could go to one of our country’s wounded veterans. So my wife and I set out to see if this could be done.”
Contacting Face of America ride participant Josh Sharpe, the Florida injured veteran and Bike-on.com staff member connected Martin with World T.E.A.M. Sports. Through coordination, the Holbrook, New York non-profit arranged for the Force 2 to be shipped to Vermont from Ohio during the latter days of the CanAm.
“The experience of the CanAm ride has inspired me to really focus on taking my cycling to the next level,” said Santamore, a Vietnam veteran who lost his left leg above the knee in a 2005 motorcycle accident. “So far, I have to say the new bike is comfortable.”
Recognizing that the Force 2 will help him become a stronger rider, Santamore believes that by using both his new Force 2 and his older Freedom Ryder hand cycles will enhance his “overall fitness and improve my riding.”
“I had difficulty keeping up with the other riders,” explained Santamore of his CanAm ride. “In order to meet certain timelines, it was necessary for me to leave an hour or so early. I would normally finish the day’s ride about an hour after the main body of riders. By doing this, I was able to complete each day’s ride. For me, it was never a question of if I would finish, but when I would finish.”
For Martin, the Force 2 was necessary for him to stay active physically following “a very serious” Achilles injury. “Prior to this injury, I was enjoying many hours riding my road bike as I and my wife are avid cyclists,” Martin recalled. “Within three weeks following my Achilles reconstruction, I was riding my Force 2 hand cycle. I had to highly modify the leg stirrups to accommodate the large metal post-surgical boot I was to wear for months. My Achilles was classified as a complete tear mid-length – no connection – and required an FHL tendon transfer as part of the surgical repair. I was able to put a little more than 1,500 miles on the hand cycle while wearing that boot.”
In his recovery, Martin was permitted by his doctor to transition back to a peddled cycle. Impressed with a three wheel bike his wife purchased to ride near her husband, “I decided to purchase my own Catrike Expedition and slowly transitioned back to foot pedal power.”
Considering the two-week CanAm Veterans’ Challenge to be a stepping stone to future events, Santamore is planning on several events, including the August 24 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. He also is looking forward to future World T.E.A.M. Sports events, such as the Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado.
The Vermont hand cyclist reports the CanAm was “one of the most challenging and humbling events that I have had the pleasure to take part in. While thinking back over the ride, probably the most inspiring moments for me were when we were welcomed by the different towns that we visited or passed through. We saw everything from honks and waves to full-blown parades where we were escorted into town and treated to various meals at a local VFW, American Legion, Boy Scout Troop, or local restaurant.”
“I think my favorite greeting was in Rome, New York,” remembered Santamore. “We were escorted into town by the mayor, police and fire departments. One group of people lining the street was waving a Danish Flag welcoming Jens Sondergaard from Denmark. The overall support of the general public was very inspiring for me and the other riders.”
“Being a Vietnam veteran, it is stirring to have citizens thank you for your service.”
As a 501(c)3 organization, donations to World T.E.A.M. Sports can be tax-deductible. In addition, donations can help athletes like Santamore improve fitness and become more involved in outdoor sporting activities.
July 9, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Injured veterans and able-bodied riders with World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge completed their nearly 800 mile journey Friday morning, reaching the Capitol of the United States.
Following a triumphant arrival at the Capitol, the riders accepted an invition by the Canadian federal government to a reception at the Canadian Embassy. Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer welcomed the riders to Washington, and provided access to the building’s impressive top floor views of the Capitol. Serving as the ambassador to the United States since 2009, Ambassador Doer said they would like to play a role in the June 2016 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge ride now in early planning by the non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports.
Riders then pedaled to the staging area for the annual Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue, sponsored by the National Park Service. As Hurricane Arthur continued to churn to the northeast, skies cleared and temperatures warmed, providing a fitting end to the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge.
July 4, 2014, Arlington, Virginia – Under gray, leaden skies, CanAm Veterans’ Challenge riders are awakening this morning for their final day of the inaugural ride, a ten mile journey across the Potomac River to the Capitol of the United States of America.
With Hurricane Arthur churning southeast of the Washington capital region along the Virginia coast, the riders today face scattered showers and breezy conditions. Fortunately, the exceptional heat of the last few days has moved on, courtesy of a passing cold front late on July 3 that brought high winds, frequent lightning and heavy rain.
For many riders, the penultimate day of riding from Frederick, Maryland to Arlington provided an opportunity to reflect upon their journey from Ottawa, the nearly 800 miles passed, the people they met during the ride and the new friends they made along the way. Arriving in Arlington by mid-afternoon, prior to the arrival of the cold front and its heavy thundershowers, the team was able to relax before attending a buffet dinner presented by sponsor Benson Botsford. At the dinner, several riders spoke of their experiences along the journey and staff members were recognized for their many valued contributions during the successful ride across four states and one province.
The schedule for the CanAm’s final day is surprisingly busy. Team members were to depart the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington for the Capitol at 7:45 a.m., arriving for a final ceremony by 8:30. Next on the schedule is breakfast at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, followed by participation in the National Independence Day Parade on the National Mall. Then, the riders are free to explore the capital on the nation’s birthday. Fireworks this evening over the city will cap off the day.
World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson announced at the Thursday dinner that although the inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge is ending, the next edition is already in the planning. It is tentatively scheduled for June 2016, following a course from Washington D.C. north into Canada, ending on Canada Day, July 1.
July 2, 2014, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – For the injured veterans riding bicycles, recumbent bicycles and hand cycles in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, the ride this morning through the historic Gettysburg National Military Park was an emotional experience.
Riding south through the solemn monuments and quiet green fields of the hallowed Civil War battlefield following their Gettysburg departure, the participating veterans could relate to the experience of colleagues in battle. One-hundred fifty-one years ago to this day, Union and Confederate troops were fighting the Civil War’s deadliest battle, with an estimated 46,000 to 51,000 casualties during the three days beginning July 1.
Back on familiar ground south of the battlefield, the riders followed much of the same byways and lanes World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America ride travels on its annual journey north to Gettysburg from the Pentagon. Hilly northern Maryland near the historic Loys Station Park with its reconstructed covered bridge provided riders with some elevation gains and losses. Yet, with the smaller team of the CanAm, the experience of these roads was different, more intimate.
The CanAm team will spend the evening in Frederick, Maryland, and ride to Arlington, Virginia on July 3. With Tropical Storm Arthur growing along the eastern Florida coast before moving northeast along the Atlantic coast, forecasters call for increasing showers in the coming days, with potential heavy rain on the afternoon and evening of July 3 in the Washington region. The riders of the CanAm look to arrive in Arlington early Thursday afternoon, and hope that Arthur stays to the east, allowing for a rain-free conclusion on July 4 in the capital.
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.
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.”
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.