By Richard Rhinehart
July 24, Washington, DC – At World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge in Washington DC July 19, 17 participating developmentally-disabled teens and young adults discovered that outdoor sporting activities can be fun, even if off-road bicycling, canoeing and hiking can be challenging.
The third-year event, hosted by the national non-profit at the scenic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, included a record number of participating athletes both disabled and able-bodied. Under slightly overcast skies and temperatures in the 80s, the disabled athletes joined 17 able-bodied athletes to complete each stage as teams.
“One of the greatest aspects of the Challenge is World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ willingness to be flexible with each component of the event and to accommodate each teen as best they can,” said KEEN Greater DC Senior Program Manager Beth Wenger, whose non-profit organization helped recruit athletes for the suburban Washington event. “This year, we had one teen that, although she tried, just wasn’t comfortable on a tandem or a recumbent, and she was able to skip that part. We also had several parents who were concerned that their teen wasn’t fit enough and didn’t have the stamina for it. They all were able to do it in one way or another, and they all had a great time and were proud of what they did.”
“The kids were amazing. They exhibit a level of resilience which, I think, most adults can only hope to achieve,” said World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson, who attended the event and provided certificates of completion to each disabled participant at the concluding ceremony.
“I am always humbled after these events,” said Brinson. “The kids are so genuinely enthusiastic to be participating.” Brinson noted the Challenge would return to the capital region in 2015.
“I love the outdoors and all the components of this event, so it was great to be able to a partner in making the Challenge happen and thereby give our KEEN Greater DC teens the opportunity to experience things I enjoy,” Wenger said. “Being a part of the event also gave me experiential knowledge that will help me recruit more KEEN Greater DC teens to participate next year.”
Challenge volunteer Jeanna Buck was impressed by the abilities of the participants. “Each child handled the event differently. Some excelled at the hike while others were better with the cycling event. Sometimes they asked for help from one of the volunteers and sometimes they were determined to complete the challenge on their own. Regardless, they always had great attitudes.”
“These events are a great opportunity for all children to come together and work as a team regardless of their differences or abilities. It teaches children to be kind and to be understanding,” said event organizer Chelsea Hall. “It is a great opportunity to get your children outside of their comfort zone in a safe and welcoming environment.”
Jesus Palma, the Logistics Coordinator for Push America, recruited the able-bodied athletes for the Challenge. “All of them really enjoyed the event and every one of them has a different story to tell,” he said of their participation.
Sponsors for the 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Washington D.C. included RC Securities, Capital One Bank, Benson Botsford LLC, Subway of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Edible Arrangements. Event partners include KEEN Greater DC, Push America and Dreams for Kids.