By Richard Rhinehart
Holbrook, New York, April 23, 2012 – Van Brinson, the Chief Operations Officer for World T.E.A.M. Sports, announced today the initial wounded warrior participants for the non-profit’s 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride.
The Sea to Shining Sea ride honors disabled veterans who have served this nation, and serves as inspiration to all Americans as to what disabled persons can accomplish through dedication, hard work and being provided an opportunity to excel.
Joining the 2012 team are Bill Czyzewski of Bunker Hill, West Virginia; Jeff Henson of Heflin, Alabama; Andrew Jansen of Normal, Illinois; John Malkin of Normal, Illinois; Michael Manning of Dickson, Tennessee; Henry Riley of Fayetteville, North Carolina; Michael Sanders of Eagle River, Alaska; James Sheehan of Stillwater, Oklahoma; Jonathon Snodgrass of Dover, New Hampshire; Joe Frank of San Diego, California; Sabrina Hearst of Santa Rosa, California; Ivan Castro of Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Larry Gunter of Phenix, Alabama; and Greg Hoffman of Phenix, Alabama. Additional participants will be named by World T.E.A.M. Sportsin the coming weeks.
Representing all branches of the service, these wounded warriors have seen deployment across the world, and have participated in military actions from Vietnam to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Participants include veterans who have lost limbs, or been blinded in their service to the country, as well as veterans who have battled back from cancer and other life-changing challenges.
“I want to show my family that even though I am blind, I am still the same man I was before, driven and determined,” said Castro, an Army veteran who has competed in 25 marathons and who looks at the cross-country ride as an opportunity. “With their support there is nothing I – we cannot achieve.”
Riley, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer as he prepared for his second deployment with the Army to Iraq in December 2008, has battled back from a near death experience. Given only a ten percent chance that he would live more than five years, Riley has slowly regained his physical and mental strength. Purchasing mountain bikes for he and his wife for their 30th wedding anniversary this summer, Riley has found the bicycling provides him the opportunity for fitness that he had lost owing to illness.
Sanders, a throat cancer survivor, will be retiring from the Air Force this September following nearly 24 years of service. Diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in 2007, Sanders used his lifetime of fitness to battle back from the illness. An active marathon runner and participant in cycling events, Sanders depends on physical activity to keep well.
Gunter, a Texas native currently living in Alabama, rides a tandem bicycle 70 miles each day, despite his blindness. He trains at the YMCA twice weekly and is physically fit. His participation in the Sea to Shining Sea will bring a sad separation between him and his 15-year-old Seeing Eye dog, Pasha. The black Labrador retriever will be put to sleep prior to the ride since her hips are no longer functioning.
Hearst is the first woman to be named to the 2012 team. With a background in nutrition and exercise-science, as well as her current role as a Coast Guard Leadership Development Center instructor, Hearst will contribute to the team as an able-bodied rider. She has been a life-long bicycling enthusiast, biking for transportation, fitness, and fun. She has been inspired often by a former commanding officer who was seriously injured in Vietnam, as well as her sister who lived the second half of her life as a paraplegic.
Czyzewski is a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran who lost a leg below the knee owing to a sniper shot. Riding a hand cycle, Czyzewski has participated in Face of America rides from World T.E.A.M. Sports, and rode a segment with the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea team. “I dedicate my ride to the over 58,000 names on a ‘black wall’ in D.C.,” he said, “and for all the Vietnam vets that are still hurting.”
Presented by State Farm, the Sea to Shining Sea ride participants will travel nearly 4,000 miles by bicycle, hand cycle and recumbent from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, Virginia. The ride begins at the Pacific Ocean near the Golden Gate Bridge on May 28, and concludes on July 28.
The 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride is supported through sponsorships by State Farm, American Portfolios, MWV, Dominion, the Semper Fi Foundation, the USO, BNY Mellon, General Electric, GM Fleet and Commercial, Brown Shoe Company and Famous Footwear, Energizer Holdings, Altria, EnerSys, Occidental Petroleum, Magaschoni Apparel, Penske Truck Rental, AR Capital, Vedder Price, the El Pomar Foundation, Recycle for People, and George Puskar.
For further information about the Sea to Shining Sea ride, visit the official ride website.