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.
Washington, DC, June 9, 2014 – For 18 days beginning June 20, 16 injured Canadian, Danish and American veterans will ride bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bikes on a 766-mile journey from Ottawa, Ontario to Washington, D.C., a capital to capital ride from non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports.
Joined by nine able-bodied riders, the veterans in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge will pedal south through one province and three states, traveling from 10 to 90 miles each day. Riding through urban and suburban communities, the team will pass through farmland, forests, and mountains, ride across mighty rivers, and meet Americans from all walks of life. Arriving in America’s capital on Independence Day, the team will experience the celebration of liberty, and gain new perspectives on teamwork, friendship and cooperation between allies.
Developed by World T.E.A.M. Sports, a national non-profit that creates inclusive sporting events for able-bodied and disabled persons, the CanAm offers a unique opportunity for veterans to remain physically fit and to create new support networks they lost after leaving active service. In addition, the public can better comprehend the remarkable dedication and determination of persons with disabilities through the ride.
For each participating veteran, life changed with their injuries. Seeing duty in wars and conflicts from Vietnam to Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan, these men and women now live with injuries and conditions ranging from blindness to Post Traumatic Stress to paralysis to amputation. Outdoor physical activities such as cycling can literally be a life-saver.
A veteran who rode across America in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea ride, Van Brinson, the non-profit’s CEO and President, recognizes the powerful nature of long rides between injured veterans and able-bodied riders. “World T.E.A.M. Sports is proud to have the opportunity to work across borders with a country who has shared in our sacrifices,” Brinson said. “The inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge provides a unique opportunity for service members from both sides of the border to ride together and demonstrate the camaraderie that exists between our nations.”
Participating injured veterans include Robert Bidder (Canada); Richard Desjardins (Canada); Mike Cotts (Canada); Michael Fuentespina (Canada); Dean Peach (Canada); Steven Baskis (USA); Scott Bates (USA); Harry Carr (USA); Marc Gabiger (USA); Larry Gunter (USA); Jeff Henson (USA); Christopher Levi (USA); Marina Libro (USA); David Santamore (USA); Jose Santiago (USA); and Jens Sondergaard (Denmark). Able-bodied riders accompanying the team include Daniel Bodden (Canada); Dean Bruno (USA); James Campbell (USA); Michael Cavanaugh (USA); Robert Clayton (USA); Lon Dolber (USA); Vaughna Galvin (USA); Frank Ocello (USA); and Victor Henderson (USA).
Corporate sponsors for the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge include Realty Capital Securities LLC, American Portfolios Financial Services, Benson Botsford LLC, Exit 10, Gerstein Fisher, Penske Truck Rental, and Pershing. Partners include Wounded Warriors Canada and Soldier On from the Canadian Armed Forces.
About World T.E.A.M. Sports
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in North Carolina and headquartered in Holbrook, New York. Since 1993, World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, biking, and more. Four things always happen at our events: (1) Disabled participants build self-confidence and physical fitness; (2) The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up physical activities; (3) The disabled become a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see that disabled individuals can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination; and (4) The disabled and able-bodied participants learn to work as a team to overcome those challenges. World T.E.A.M. Sportschanges lives through sports.