By Richard Rhinehart
Claryville, New York, June 4, 2013 – Twenty developmentally disabled teens and young adults from New York and New Jersey will gather in New York’s Catskill Mountains September 19-22 to participate in the 2013 Adventure Team Challenge at Frost Valley from World T.E.A.M. Sports.
Held at the Frost Valley YMCA near Claryville, the event is modeled after the non-profit organization’s annual Adventure TEAM Challenge in western Colorado. In each event, athletes with disabilities team with able-bodied participants to successfully complete a series of outdoor sporting activities. The five participating teams of four athletes at Frost Valley will climb Slide Mountain, the Catskills’ highest mountain, compete in a fast-paced relay challenge and complete a water challenge on the YMCA camp’s Lake Cole.
Developmentally disabled athletes in the 2013 Challenge include individuals aged 15 to 48 who enjoy outdoor activities such as horseback riding, football, hand cycling, hiking, skiing, swimming, running and baseball. Many of the participants also enjoy other activities, including gardening, dance, music, arts and crafts and cooking.
Assisting each team are experienced coaches and counselors, who will guide their athletes through the stages of the Challenge. One assistant captain is retired US Air Force veteran Larry Gunter from Phenix City, Alabama. Gunter, who successfully crossed the country by tandem bicycle last summer as a member of World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea ride, is blind. The former C-130 cargo crew chief is serving as an assistant captain for Team Green Gators.
Another assistant captain for the Challenge is Bob Clayton from American Portfolios Financial Services Inc. A five-time participant in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America bicycle ride from Washington to Gettysburg honoring injured veterans, Clayton also participated in segments of the organization’s Sea to Shining Sea ride in 2012. His participation in the cross-country ride honored his brother Jon, who was killed in a helicopter accident during training maneuvers with the Marines in 1981.
Several other coaches have participated in the Face of America ride, including World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Paul Tyler, an assistant captain for Team Red Tide; Team Orange Crush Assistant Captain David Rey; and veteran Rich Antunovich, who is serving as an assistant captain for Team Yellow Jackets.
Among the administrators for the Challenge is Corp Chris Levi, a Face of America rider with Team American Portfolios. Serving two deployments with the US Army Infantry, Levi was seriously injured in 2008 during a patrol in Iraq, in which his Humvee was hit by a roof-top bomber. The attack left Levi with the loss of both legs from the mid-thighs and a portion of his right hand.
American Portfolios Financial Services Inc. CEO and President Lon Dolber, a member of the World T.E.A.M. Sports Board of Directors, has been a key supporter and organizer of the Frost Valley event since it began in 2010. Having participated with the non-profit for several years, including a climb of Africa’s Kilimanjaro, a sea kayaking adventure along the Pacific Northwest coast, an Adventure TEAM Challenge in Colorado and several Face of America rides, Dolber could see how inclusive events bringing together disabled and able-bodied persons lead to a greater understanding and increased motivation by participants and spectators for inclusiveness. With the Frost Valley event in its fourth year, Dolber notes that “all 20 athletes from the Center for Discovery are new to the event this year.”
The Challenge begins with opening ceremonies on September 19, with competition beginning the afternoon of September 20 and continuing through September 21. Closing ceremonies will be held the evening of September 21, with participants departing Frost Valley on the morning of September 22. In total, 57 athletes and coaches will participate, along with six administrators and 12 volunteers for the event.
Event sponsors for 2013 include American Portfolios Financial Services Inc., a Holbrook, New York independent brokerage and financial service corporation founded in 2001 and The Center for Discovery, a non-profit Harris, New York organization that has provided educational, health, residential and family support for children and adults with severe disabilities for more than 60 years.
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. Celebrating 20 years in 2013, World T.E.A.M. Sports organizes athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, bicycling, and more. In all our events we include both disabled and able-bodied participants with all participants working as a team to overcome challenges. Our events encourage disabled participants to build self-confidence and physical fitness while providing a role model for other disabled citizens. World T.E.A.M. Sports events also encourage the disabled to take up physical activities and become a moving inspiration to other participants, as well as spectators who see that the disabled can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination. We change lives through sports.
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.