By Richard Rhinehart
West Point, New York, October 21, 2015 – National non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural Face of America Liberty bicycle and hand cycle ride from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York to the World Trade Center in Manhattan October 18 provided the 28 participating disabled and able-bodied athletes the opportunity to ride together as a supportive team.
Similar to the organization’s annual Face of America ride in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania each April, the one-day, 53-mile ride along the Hudson River included military veterans, civilians and active duty military from five states. Ranging in age from 26 to 68, participants came together as a team during their seven hour journey, talking and cooperating, overcoming obstacles and challenges. Arriving at the World Trade Center in downtown New York, the riders gathered at the reflecting pools south of the new 104-story One World Trade Center to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks on America and the subsequent Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
For the non-profit, the return to the World Trade Center recalled the emotional 2002 and 2003 Face of America bicycle rides directed by World T.E.A.M. Sports. In those two years, more than 2,000 athletes from across the nation rode 270 miles from Ground Zero in New York to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia in three days.
Under consideration as an addition to the non-profit’s 2016 national event schedule, the 2015 Face of America Liberty was developed by World T.E.A.M. Sports board member Paul Tyler and James P. McCauley Jr., a regular Face of America participant and the leading fundraiser for the April 2015 ride. Seeking to create a similar inspiring cycling event in the Hudson Valley, McCauley and Tyler worked tirelessly to find an appropriate route between the Military Academy and downtown Manhattan. They also consulted with various federal, state and local authorities to be certain correct procedures and policies were followed, creating a good foundation for future rides.
Departing the Military Academy that morning in cool but clear weather, the riders encountered light snow flurries as they traveled south. Under clearing skies, the team crossed the Hudson at Weehawken by ferry in mid-afternoon, and then rode along Manhattan’s west side to the World Trade Center.
“When we arrived at the Trade Center, we had a European woman walk up and ask what we were doing,” recalled World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President Van Brinson, who provided support along the ride to athletes. “When one of riders explained that it was veteran-focused event from World T.E.A.M. Sports, the woman started hugging everyone.”
Noting that the route along the Hudson River was challenging, Brinson believes it has good potential with “the right team of people.”
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is excited about the Face of America Liberty ride,” said Brinson. “We are continually looking for ways to expand our outreach and this ride offers us that opportunity. Over the next few months we will be working to determine the feasibility of expanding this ride for next year.”
Video created by Melvin Roberts.