Tag Archives: Washington

CanAm Veterans’ Challenge: Washington Gallery

by Richard Rhinehart

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.

Arlington ride departure.
Riders prepare to depart Arlington, Virginia for the finish in Washington, D.C. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Veterans lead the way.
Veterans on hand cycles move to the front of the team prior to departure from the Marriott in Arlington. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

CanAm riders at the Capitol.
Participants of the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge pose in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the cameras. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Riding the streets of Washington, D.C.
En route to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Arriving at the Canadian Embassy.
Arriving at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Van Brinson and Gary Doer.
World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson (left) talks with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer July 4. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Canadian Embassy reception.
Reception at the Canadian Embassy for the CanAm team. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Team picture at the Canadian Embassy.
From the upper observation deck at the Canadian Embassy, the team poses for a group image in front of the Capitol. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Waiting for the parade.
The team waits for the start of the Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Start of the Independence Day Parade.
The CanAm team stands ready for the start of the Independence Day Parade in Washington. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Big Balloon at the Independence Day Parade.
The Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. included big balloons, including one behind the CanAm team. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

The CanAm Team in the Independence Day Parade.
The Parade is underway along Constitution Avenue. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

 

Bob Clayton at the Parade.
CanAm Veterans’ Challenge rider Bob Clayton enjoys the Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Photography courtesy Bob Clayton.

 

Sorting gear on July 5.
Following the ride conclusion, there are still tasks to accomplish. On July 5, staff members gathered to sort gear and clean rental trucks. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

CanAm Riders Prepare for Final Stage to Capitol

By Richard Rhinehart

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.

Major-General Nicolas Matern.
Canadian Major-General Nicolas Matern joined the CanAm team for the July 3 ride from Frederick, Maryland to Arlington, Virginia. Photograph by Van Brinson.

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.

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.)