By Richard Rhinehart
Bloomington, IL May 28, 2013 – A key member of two cross-country bicycle rides with injured military veterans is retiring from his full time position with State Farm Insurance June 1. Mike Claver, who served as a staff member for the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea ride and as ride director for the 2012 ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports, is retiring after 26 years with the national insurance company.
Following Claver’s participation in the 2010 ride from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, he reported his life would never be the same after watching the 18 veterans cross America. “Every single day there was a moment that reached out and touched the place in my heart where the lumps in my throat and the tears in my eyes live,” Claver recalled. “Those moments have burrowed deep into my memory and have kept me warm; souvenirs of a time in my life when I was in the company of greatness; when I knew the courage it sometimes takes to go on, to refuse to surrender to the circumstances of living with their injuries and memories of war.”
Recruited by then-World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Paul Bremer, and COO Van Brinson for the role of ride director for the 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride, Claver was permitted by State Farm to work full time on the ride to create and manage logistics for a successful cross-country journey. His retirement June 1 from his position as Superintendent – Administrative Services for State Farm will mark the end of a successful career with the agency.
“I came to know Mike when on behalf State Farm he led a group of 16 wounded warriors across America by bicycle in 2010 – From Sea to Shining Sea,” said Bremer. “Mike was the spark plug that just kept firing all through the difficult and often frustrating 64 days of this adventure. Like so many other undertakings during his life, Mike’s contribution was essential, his willingness to help others unstoppable and his good humor ever present. I join with the thousands of people all over America who have been touched by Mike Claver’s professionalism, humility and simply love of country in wishing him the happiest of retirements.”
Joining State Farm as a Supervisor Trainee in 1986, Claver served in several positions with the Illinois and regional offices, as well as the corporate headquarters. As a former volunteer firefighter with the Danvers Fire Department, he became involved with State Farm’s Emergency Management and Business Continuity office. Through his role, he has helped managed catastrophes for the agency ranging from hurricanes to tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and hail storms.
Yet, it is Claver’s work with World T.E.A.M. Sports that has had the greatest impact on lives. In his role with the 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride, Claver managed the day-to-day logistics and scheduling for the ride, as well as managing a team of staff and college interns. Representing both World T.E.A.M. Sports and State Farm on his two-month cross-country journey, Claver helped the veteran riders meet daily challenges ranging from freezing temperatures and spitting snow in Nevada to record heat in Kansas and the American Midwest. His leadership and direction kept the ride on schedule to its late July conclusion in Virginia.
“Mike played an unbelievably important role in planning for, leading and completing the ride,” said current World T.E.AM. Sports CEO and President Paul Tyler. “We all knew the ride would present unexpected challenges. Each time these challenges emerged, he dealt effectively and professionally with them as we all knew he would. The tattoos of the ride logo on several of the riders’ legs say it all – he changed lives through this remarkable event.”
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is thankful to have the support of individuals such as Mike and we hope that his retirement from State Farm is only the beginning of a long relationship with us,” said Van Brinson, the organization’s COO, who rode with the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea. Noting that Claver was a key director of the 2010 and the 2012 ride, Brinson notes that “his enthusiasm and dedication directly contributed to the success of both of those events.” Brinson also recognized the support of Helen Claver “for her support to our organization.”
The principal author for World T.E.A.M. Sports’ commemorative book of the 2012 ride, “Shining Seas,” Claver reports he is writing about his ride experiences. He also will spend more time with his family, including his young grandson Ethan.
Following his retirement, Claver will serve as a Pastor at his Morton, Illinois church and teach disaster preparedness at Illinois State University. He also was named by the Danvers Fire Department as Chaplain.
“While I’m retiring from State Farm, I am not retiring from the other things I have enjoyed doing that gave my life special meaning,” said Claver. “I look forward to the days ahead as we continue in our shared mission to make the world a better, safer place.”
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.