Tag Archives: Canada

Follow the Riders Daily

By Richard Rhinehart

June 20, 2014, Perth, Ontario – Interested in cheering on the riders of the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge as they ride through your community? Or are you an armchair supporter who is following the June 20 through July 4 ride from the comfort of your office or home? Either way, World T.E.A.M. Sports is providing online GPS tracking of the team as they ride the nearly 800 miles from Ottawa to Washington.

Sample SPOT tracking map.
A section of the SPOT GPS tracking map from the first day of tracking the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge.

Through the use of modern satellite technology, World T.E.A.M. Sports has created a shared tracking page for the three SPOT GPS trackers used by riders in the 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge. The tracking page includes regularly updated locations for the three units, keyed to a Google map showing the location.

On the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge tracking site, you can see locations of the three GPS units represented by different colored dots on the map. These locations are automatically updated every ten minutes. The three tracking units show the approximate location of the team, with one unit at the front of the group, another at the end and the third somewhere in the middle.

SPOT Tracking LogoAn additional feature of the provided Google map is the built-in Google Street View feature, which allows the user to drag and drop the little man icon onto the road, and see the terrain the riders are currently passing. It’s almost if you are riding along with the team.

The units will be active each day during the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, excepting the rest days. Tracking information will remain online from past daily rides for seven days.

Track the riders now!

Member of Parliament to Send off CanAm Riders from Ottawa

By Richard Rhinehart

June 19, 2014, Ottawa, Ontario – The 16 injured veterans from Canada, the United States and Denmark in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge will begin their ride from the steps of Parliament in Ottawa June 20 with a send-off from Canadian Member of Parliament Erin O’Toole.

MP Erin O'Toole
Canadian Member of Parliament Erin O’Toole at a recent session of Parliament in Ottawa. Photograph courtesy MP Erin O’Toole.

A commissioned officer with the Royal Canadian Air Force and a member of the Canadian Forces reserves, O’Toole has served as a fundraiser for several national charities, including the True Patriot Love Foundation. The Foundation honors sacrifices of members of the Canadian Forces, veterans and their families.

Representing Durham, Ontario in Parliament, O’Toole was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. A member of the Conservative Party caucus, he has served on Canada’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

Friday’s ride will journey 52 miles to the south, ending in the town of Perth, located along the Tay River.

Riders will depart their Ottawa hotel at 8 a.m., with the send-off ceremony at Parliament beginning at 9 a.m. Following remarks by O’Toole and World T.E.A.M. Sports leaders, the riders will begin their nearly 800 mile, two week journey to Washington, D.C.

Inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge Bicycle Ride with Injured Veterans to Inspire

By Richard Rhinehart

Ottawa, Ontario, June 17, 2014 – For 14 days beginning June 20, a team of 16 injured Canadian, American and Danish veterans in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge will ride bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bicycles nearly 800 miles from the capital of Canada to the capital of the United States.

Army veteran Steve Baskis.
Army veteran Steve Baskis lost his sight in Iraq. Yet, he is active in outdoor sports, including rock climbing. Photograph courtesy of Steve Baskis.

Departing from the steps of Canada’s Parliament at 9 a.m. June 20, the riders will travel from ten to 90 miles each day as they pass through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia on their way to Washington. Arriving in the capital on July 4, the team will participate in the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue before completing their journey.

Participating riders include war and conflict veterans who served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Joining the veterans will be nine able-bodied riders, two serving as pilots for blind veterans riding tandem bicycles. Other veterans have experienced loss of limb, paralysis, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries during their national service.

“The CanAm ride will provide a blind soldier a unique experience and perspective of North America,” said Army veteran Steve Baskis, who lost his sight in Iraq. “Along the way between two nations, I hope to motivate and inspire others to dream big and go far.”

Veteran Michael Fuentespina.
Canadian Armed Forces veteran Michael Fuentespina completed tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Photograph courtesy Michael Fuentespina.

“I am doing the ride to connect with other injured soldiers who are trying to overcome their limitations through participation in fitness-related activities,” said Canadian Armed Forces veteran Michael Fuentespina, who completed tours in Bosnia and in Afghanistan. “I hope to learn from their experiences and use this both personally and professionally.”

U.S. Navy veteran Scott Bates looks at the ride as a way to recover from his service-related injuries. “Cycling itself can even be looked at as a metaphor. 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,” Bates said.

Retired Master Sergeant Marina Libro is the only woman veteran participating in the ride. Libro retired from her Army service in 2011. “This is why I ride,” Libro said. “Cycling keeps me sane. When I can’t ride physically, I am riding mentally. I am beginning to open up more and tell my story more because of cycling. Cycling is my safe place. That is what I hope to get back to on each ride I go on: my safe place, my place to decompress and to physically exert and challenge myself in a safe environment with other people just like me. People say you can’t see your soul – I can: every time I look at my trike.”

Created by World T.E.A.M. Sports, the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge is the latest sporting event by the national non-profit organization. For more than two decades, the New York-based organization has developed and managed inclusive sporting events for persons with disabilities and able-bodied persons. This unique combination illustrates the benefits of teamwork and cooperation – that by working together, great challenges can be overcome. World T.E.A.M. Sports looks to the “coalition of the riding” in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge to provide inspiration to other persons with disabilities and to the public.

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.

Bob Clayton and veteran Larry Gunter.
Bob Clayton, left, will serve as the pilot for blind veteran Larry Gunter of Alabama. Photograph courtesy Bob Clayton.

Fellowship Between Nations Highlights Inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge Ride

By Richard Rhinehart

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.

Army Veteran Steve Baskis
Blind Army veteran Steve Baskis, who climbed Nepal’s Lobuche with World T.E.A.M. Sports in October 2010, will be riding a tandem with pilot Victor Henderson. (Photograph courtesy Steve Baskis.)

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.

Major Richard Desjardins.
Major Richard Desjardins has actively served with the Canadian Armed Forces since 1974. He will be riding as a member of the team. (Photograph courtesy Major Richard Desjardins.)

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. SportsSea 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).

Marina Libro.
Army Master Sergeant Marina Libro of Virginia retired in 2011. She participated in the last three Face of America rides from World T.E.A.M. Sports and will be riding the inaugural CanAm. (Photograph courtesy Marina Libro.)

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. Sports changes lives through sports.

Canadian Team at the 2013 Face of America ride.
The team of Canadian riders complete the 2013 Face of America ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The 2014 CanAm ride will spend an evening in this southern Pennsylvania city. (Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.)