By Richard Rhinehart
Hedgesville, West Virginia, June 19, 2013 – Retired Army Staff Sergeant Steve Miller is determined to participate in the Adventure TEAM Challenge from World T.E.A.M. Sports.
Despite losing his left leg following injuries he sustained while in service in Vietnam, the 64-year-old Hedgesville, West Virginia veteran is hopeful he’ll find a place on a team at the annual competitive event in the high desert of Colorado near the Utah border.
One possibility is with an all-veterans team that fellow West Virginian Glenn Goulet is organizing. A finisher from last summer’s Sea to Shining Sea bicycle ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports, Goulet is working with cross-county colleagues Michael Manning and Mike Sanders to create a team for the three day event in the scenic McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction. With each participating team consisting of five participants, two of which must be disabled, one being a wheelchair user, Goulet has also invited veteran Omar Romney to complete the team. Romney recently participated in the Warrior 100K Ride in Texas with Manning and former President George W. Bush.
If Goulet’s team does compete in this September’s Adventure TEAM Challenge, it will be the second World T.E.A.M. Sports event for Miller. Medically discharged from the Army following ten years of service in 1976, Miller is a four-time participant of the Face of America bicycle ride the non-profit organizes each spring, from the Pentagon to Gettysburg. Riding a Shark recumbent hand tricycle, Miller notes he almost didn’t participant in his first Face of America in 2010 owing to a bad reaction from an insulin shot. He did, however, and was impressed.
For his third Face of America in 2012, double bypass heart surgery in late 2011 nearly kept him off his bike. But, he trained and made the ride. Unfortunately, the recovery from his surgery did exclude his participation in the 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride with Goulet and Bill Czyzewski, another West Virginia Vietnam veteran. “Steve talked to both of us and said it was a good idea to see the country that we defended,” said Goulet. Miller intends to apply for the next Sea to Shining Sea ride, to be held in 2014 or 2015.
Despite being injured in a vehicle accident in Vietnam while under fire, Miller took up competition in the National Veterans Golden Age Games in 2007. During the next three years, he earned nine gold medals in the 25 meter and 50 meter back stroke swimming events. Also an accomplished bowler, he won silver and bronze medals in the competitions.
Working part time as the Disabled American Veteran transportation coordinator for the Martinsburg Veterans Administration Medical Center, Miller has been influential in encouraging other veterans to take up active sports. Both Goulet and Czyzewski were encouraged by Miller to participate in events like the Face of America. “You can do anything you want in life if you try,” says Miller.
Married with two sons and seven grandchildren, Miller has strong advice for younger veterans with injuries returning home from their service. “Get on a bike and ride and not be discouraged,” he says.
The Adventure TEAM Challenge from World T.E.A.M. Sports returns this September 13-15 to the canyons of the Colorado River in western Colorado. Since its debut in 2007 as the Real Deal Inclusive Sports Adventure, the Challenge has brought together teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes for an inspiring event that includes mountain biking, river rafting, climbing, and hiking. Teams currently are forming for the 2013 Challenge.
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.