By Richard Rhinehart
Eagle, Colorado, September 1, 2015 – Navy veteran and stand-up comedian PJ Walsh seeks the unexpected in life. This September 18-20, the 43-year-old retired Navy dental technician will be joining four Marines in competition at the ninth annual Adventure Team Challenge Colorado from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports.
“I again have been offered something exciting and in ways, nerve-racking,” Walsh said of his coming participation in a three-day event in Colorado’s remote Gore Mountains northeast of Eagle. Earlier this year, Walsh competed in NBC Television’s American Ninja Warrior as a participant in the program’s special all-military episodes. Although he was eliminated from competition after being hit by a rolling log, Walsh was able to put forth his message about supporting military veterans to a national television audience.
Ninja host and Colorado native Matt Iseman had praise for his friend. “PJ is a Navy man and a person of extraordinary focus and dedication. He’s also incredibly selfless and committed to helping others whenever he can. It’s these skills that I believe will make him a formidable competitor in the Adventure Team Challenge.”
“World T.E.A.M. Sports is proud to have Mr. PJ Walsh as a team member on this year’s Adventure Team Challenge Colorado,” said Van Brinson, the organization’s CEO and President. “As a Navy veteran and American Ninja Warrior participant, Mr. Walsh will fit right in with the rest of the competitors at this year’s challenge. We look forward to introducing him to World T.E.A.M. Sports and our unique, challenging events.”
Serving in the Navy as a field medic from 1990 to 1995, Walsh was stationed in Bethesda, Maryland. There, he provided dental care to members of the nation’s executive branch, including President Bill Clinton and his family.
The former Brewster, New York resident owes his career in comedy to friends in the Navy who encouraged him to pursue stand-up. During periods of inactivity, Walsh entertained his friends by telling funny stories. “I just started yapping during muster to keep people from getting bored.”
Following his discharge from the Navy, Walsh performed at comedy clubs, eventually performing with other comedians such as Larry the Cable Guy. Walsh took a break from comedy to attend theater school for two years to help create his one-man show, “Over There: Comedy is his Best Weapon.”
“The process of putting this show together really became an exploration of a life,” Walsh said. Infusing comedy with his serious, reflective experiences, he wanted to entertain, but also to get people to think.
Performing regularly for military personnel both in the United States and overseas, Walsh once flew in a C130 plane filled with flag-draped coffins. It was “five hours of silence I will feel for the rest of my life,” he recalled.
Dedicating his work to honoring the service people who fight for their country, Walsh feels that although he is no longer in the service, he still has a duty. “The one big question I ask myself often is at the end of my days, what will I look back on?”
As a participant in American Ninja Warrior, Walsh was satisfied, despite his early departure. “I knew no matter how far I got in the competition, I’d be able to do an interview at the end of the show and thank our service people. That was my only reason for competing.”
“Whatever challenges his team faces, PJ will not rest until they are conquered,” said Iseman of his friend. “At the end of the day, PJ will be a champion. He’ll also be extremely red, unless you give him a lot of sunblock.”
Being his first outdoor team competition, the Adventure Team Challenge will give Walsh the opportunity to participate in sports with disabled veterans. Each team of five in the Challenge includes two athletes with disabilities, one being a wheelchair user. Invited to participate following his American Ninja competition, Walsh quickly accepted. “This is pretty awesome and my mind was completely blown!”
Participating athletes at the Challenge raft the Colorado River, ride mountain bikes on steep mountain trails, undertake rope work on granite outcroppings and find their way through the remote Gore Mountain Range. Despite the difficulties, all teams in the first eight years of the Challenge have finished.
The 2015 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado from World T.E.A.M. Sports is supported through sponsors and partners including American Portfolios Financial Services, Deven’s Recycling, Pearl Meyer & Partners, Skanska USA, TimeCapital and Timberline Sports. Additional financial support is provided by Jim Noland, George Puskar and James Benson.