By Richard Rhinehart
Dallas, Texas, January 2, 2014 – Military members who have sustained serious injuries in post 9/11 combat are encouraged to submit applications for the Warrior 100K Ride in Texas this May 1-3. In previous years, disabled veterans who participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports events have successfully completed the ride, managed by the Military Initiative of the George W. Bush Institute.
“President Bush wanted a way to honor injured service members and the organizations that support them,” said LtCol Matthew F. Amidon, the Program Manager for the Military Service Initiative at the Institute. “He combined his love of mountain biking with the opportunity to share quality time with the warriors as well as draw attention to the organizations doing great work for the warriors and their families.”
“I’ll be riding across the deserts of Texas with wounded warriors to show the unbelievable character of our men and women in uniform,” said President Bush. “It’s a ride to herald people who were dealt a severe blow and said, ‘I’m not going to let it tear me down.’”
First held in southwestern Texas near Big Bend National Park in 2011, the Warrior 100K Ride has included several veterans who have participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports events, including the annual Face of America ride from the Pentagon to Gettysburg and the cross-country Sea to Shining Sea ride. In 2012, six World T.E.A.M. Sports athletes rode with the President in Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo. This last May at the President’s ranch near Crawford, veterans José Santiago, Omar Romney, and Michael Manning participated.
“He is so down to earth,” said Manning of the President. “You wouldn’t think he would be like that. And yes, he will kick your butt on a mountain bike, believe me. But that’s his sport.”
For consideration as a participant in the 2014 Warrior 100K, athletes must have sustained a serious injury in post 9/11 combat, be active-duty, retired or honorably discharged, and also be an intermediate to advanced amateur mountain biker. Applicants must submit a completed Warrior 100K application, a medical certificate of diagnosis and waiver, a recent photograph, proof of military service, and a letter of recommendation from a mountain biking professional, such as a coach, trainer, mechanic or support staff. “Please leave plenty of time to gather the necessary signatures on the required documents,” LtCol Amidon advises interested applicants. “The medical release is crucial and that often takes several weeks to obtain from your health care provider.” Deadline for submission is March 14.
“In addition to gifts from generous sponsors, the warriors receive the opportunity to bond with fellow warriors and feel connected to their shared military culture. Their family members also receive invaluable support and the opportunity to make new friends,” said LtCol Amidon. “The warriors and their families also have the opportunity to connect with Military Service organizations and corporate sponsors who can offer direction, advice, services, and even employment in some cases.”
A University of Vermont graduate, LtCol Amidon has served in active duty and reserve with the Marine Corps since 1994. As the Program Manager for the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, he works to develop, implement and execute program and events, including the Warrior 100K and the Warrior Open Golf tournament. For this year’s Warrior 100K, LtCol Amidon is seeking about 20 participants. “The format [of the ride] was developed to offer an opportunity for highly skilled warriors to challenge themselves and others. In addition, the format serves as an inspiration goal for those warriors in recovery to someday participate. The format also allows for the warriors to have personal quality time with President Bush.”
“The Warrior 100K, along with the Warrior Open golf tournament, are intended to not only honor the service, sacrifice and resilience of our participating warriors, but are utilized as platforms to generate attention on a national scale to both veterans and veteran issues, and also to the work of the George W. Bush Institute. These events serve as vehicles to spotlight MSOs and military families, and to facilitate networking and joint effort across the business, non-profit and philanthropic sectors.”
For those who are selected to participate, the Warrior 100K promises to be memorable. “There will be a few surprises in store for the warriors!” said LtCol Amidon.
“Take advantage of it, because it is an honor; train for it, because it is a little hard,” said Santiago of the Warrior 100K experience.
A past partner with the George W. Bush Institute, 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. For more than 20 years, World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, bicycling, and more.
Apply to participate in the 2014 Warrior 100K Ride.