Arlington, Virginia, December 11: Participants from across the United States begin registration Wednesday, April 16 for national nonprofit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ popular Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride. Scheduled for April 22-24, 2016, the inclusive ride concludes at the historic Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and honors disabled military veterans from all service branches.
An anticipated 750 able-bodied civilians, active duty and retired military cyclists will ride alongside adaptive veterans in two 110-mile, two-day routes. The classic route begins at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, while the new northern route begins at George Washington’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Both routes join together on April 24 in Gettysburg, riding the last few miles as one group to the finish at the Allstar Expo Complex.
The non-competitive Face of America is fully-supported for participants, with overnight stays in Frederick, Maryland and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All participating athletes receive a commemorative jersey at on-site registration, along with a gala kick-off dinner and celebratory outdoor lunch at the Gettysburg conclusion.
For participating veterans with disabilities, riding Face of America provides a tremendous sense of accomplishment. “The staff and marshals who rode with us were exemplary,” reported one veteran of the 2015 ride. “They really gave me confidence in doing this and encouragement along the way.”
Support and participation in Face of America has increased significantly in the last decade, making the ride the non-profit’s most popular athletic event. Adaptive military veterans with disabilities ranging from loss of limb to Post Traumatic Stress to blindness participate with able-bodied riders. At the 2015 ride, more than 130 of the 600 total participants were fully or partly disabled. The Face of America began in 2000 as a cross-country relay with disabled teams from each coast meeting under the St. Louis Gateway Arch. In 2002 and 2003, the ride honored the victims of the September 11 attacks and traveled from Ground Zero in New York to the Pentagon. In 2006, the Face of America was re-envisioned as an inclusive ride to honor those who have been injured or disabled while serving in the military. Over the next nine years, participation by disabled Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans increased, growing from a few dozen in 2006 to more than 100 in 2015.
For many of the adaptive veterans, completing the 110 mile ride is a tremendous accomplishment. In addition, meeting and joining with other veterans with disabilities helps create new support networks and friendships that change lives.
Each participating civilian, retired and active duty military rider raises funds from family, friends, co-workers and colleagues to support the participation of the adaptive veterans, who receive lodging and meals with their registration. Fundraising also covers event costs. Any remaining funds are applied to upcoming World T.E.A.M. Sports events, including Adventure Team Challenges in Colorado and North Carolina, New York’s Coastal Team Challenge and other life-changing athletic events for disabled and able-bodied athletes.
The 2016 Face of America is supported through sponsorships from American Portfolios Financial Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, Benson Botsford LLC, Capital One Bank, Penske Truck Rental, Sila Solutions Group, SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Veteran Corps of America. Additional sponsorship support is forthcoming.