By Richard Rhinehart
Holbrook, NY, September 27, 2012 – A blind Iraq War veteran who rode across the United States with World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea ride is a nominee for the 2012 USAA Athletic Inspiration Award for Courage in Sports.
Captain Ivan Castro, 45, participated as a member of the cross-country ride that crossed 13 states and the District of Columbia before finishing at Virginia Beach, Virginia July 28. Riding with pilot William Lahman, Captain Castro left San Francisco on a tandem bicycle Memorial Day and rode east nearly 4,000 miles the next 60 days. Riding through excessive summer heat with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F., the team of 14 disabled veterans and two pilots were welcomed by residents in towns and cities across the continent.
Currently on active duty with the US Army as a commander of a Special Operations Recruiting Company in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Captain Castro advocates for participation by military veterans with disabilities in challenging sporting events. Blinded in both eyes when mortar shells landed near him in 2006 while deployed to Iraq, Captain Castro has participated in more than 24 marathons, including the New York, Boston and Marine Corps Marathons. He was featured in country music singer Joe Nichol’s 2011 video for his hit song, “The Shape I’m In.”
“My biggest inspiration is my family,” Captain Castro said prior to his cross-country ride. “I want to show my family that even though I am blind, I am still the same man I was before, driven and determined.”
The USAA Athletic Inspiration Award recognizes individuals who have overcome challenges to achieve greatness in athletics. Four individuals were nominated by sports entertainment creator Intersport, including Captain Castro. Fans can vote for their favorite athlete through Facebook. Votes may be placed daily through October 8.
The winner of the fan voting will be announced in a one-hour “Courage in Sports” special that will air on CBS Television on Veterans Day, November 11.
The Sea to Shining Sea ride, sponsored by State Farm, is a bi-annual cross-country bicycle ride with disabled active duty and veteran military. Created and managed by the non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, the ride provides an opportunity for these service members to meet challenges and adapt to their disabilities. In addition, the ride serves as inspiration for other disabled and able-bodied persons.
The Sea to Shining Sea ride is scheduled to return in 2014. Veterans with disabilities interested in participating can contact World T.E.A.M. Sports for further information.