By Richard Rhinehart
Arlington, Virginia, March 19, 2015 – National non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America banquet in Arlington April 24 will welcome United States Marine Corps MSgt William “Spanky” Gibson of Oklahoma as the event’s honored guest speaker.
Deployed overseas in multiple assignments, including tours in Iraq in 1992, 2006 and 2008, Gibson was shot through the left knee while on foot patrol in Ramadi on May 16, 2006. His injury required amputation of his left leg just above the knee.
During rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Gibson began vigorous training to regain his fitness. In the year beginning November 2006, he competed in more than 12 races nationally using his prosthetic leg, including a marathon and two half IRONMAN triathlons. In June 2007, he joined the Semper Fi Team at World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Real Deal Inclusive Sports Adventure, a three day adventure race in Colorado’s high country. His team competed in support of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and won the Real Deal against strong competing athletes that included Sarah Will and Erik Weihenmayer.
“That one event was one of the most difficult but rewarding things I’ve ever completed,” Gibson recalled. “The mountain bike event was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to complete.”
Redeployed to Iraq in 2008 as America’s first above-the-knee amputee to return to a ground combat area of operation, Gibson was selected to become one of the first two Enlisted Congressional Fellows to Congress. The recipient of 20 meritorious citations for his service, including two Meritorious Service Medals and the Purple Heart, Gibson was honored at his retirement in August 2011 by receiving letters of appreciation from all four living Presidents for whom he served during his two decades of service.
Currently assisting veterans with claims and benefits as a field service representative for the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, Gibson has been featured in numerous national media reports, including GQ Magazine, Triathlon Magazine, Sports Illustrated, CBS, FOX and MSNBC.
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is excited to welcome William ‘Spanky’ Gibson to the Face of America as our Guest of Honor and speaker,” said Van Brinson, the organization’s CEO and President. “As someone who is himself a veteran, and who now works with veterans, Spanky brings a wealth of knowledge to the event. We are glad to have him join us.”
The Face of America ride April 24-26 will include 140 disabled veteran and civilian athletes riding bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bicycles from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia to the historic battlefields of Gettysburg. The ride honors military veterans who have given much in their service to their country. More than 350 active-duty military, retired military and civilian athletes will ride alongside the disabled in the two-day ride.
The Face of America banquet will be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia April 24, beginning at 7 p.m.
The 2015 Face of America Ride is supported through sponsorships from Capital One Bank, American Portfolios Financial Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, Benson Botsford LLC, CA Technologies, Deven’s Recycling, DuPont Fabros Technology, Fidelity & Guaranty Life, Freshbikes, General Electric, Lerch, Early & Brewer, Penske Truck Rental, Sila Solutions Group, SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Three Wire Systems LLC, U.S. Silica, Vedder Price, Veterans Corps of America and Xtiva Financial Systems.