Adventure Team Challenge Washington D.C.: A Conversation with Karen Glasser

By Sarah Bell

Washington, D.C., October 4, 2016 – On September 17, 2016, World T.E.A.M. Sports partnered with Best Buddies Capital Region to produce its fourth Adventure Team Challenge, Washington, D.C. Presenting sponsor, New Jersey-based Dralla Foundation teamed with sponsors SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Edible Arrangements to provide generous funding and in-kind support.

Recently, World T.E.A.M. Sports spoke with Best Buddies Regional Director, Karen Glasser, who participated in the event with several Best Buddies volunteers and staff members.

Karen Glasser at Adventure Team Challenge

Karen Glasser, front, facing away from camera, reaches over to join the kick-off for Adventure Team Challenge, Washington D.C. Photograph by Sarah Bell.

World T.E.A.M. Sports: Karen, thank you for taking the time to speak. How did Best Buddies Capital Region got involved with this year’s Adventure Team Challenge, Washington D.C., event?

Karen Glasser: A Best Buddies staff member, Jon Brideau, [who participates in WTS’ Face of America event each year] runs our cycling events and he introduced us to Van Brinson and Sarah Bell at WTS, noting they wanted to partner with us for an adaptive, outdoor endurance event for our participants with disabilities. After one conversation with them, we knew we would be thrilled to be a part of it.

WTS: What got you excited about this particular event and did it meet your expectations?

KG: We are always looking for new opportunities to offer our participants, and we knew this was going to be a one-of-kind of event we couldn’t pass up! That we were able to match able-bodied Peer Buddies with kids with disabilities was extremely effective. It was not an easy course, but with teamwork, everyone was able to complete the course. It was very organized but it was also very relaxed. Those who wanted to be competitive were able to do so, and those who just wanted to finish the course were able to as well, without pressure or stress. Some of the kids had never ridden a bike or been in a canoe before, so that they were able to fully complete the challenge was extra special. They also loved getting their reward certificates at the end. These kids were proud of themselves and really enjoyed it. They made new friends, with both each other and their Peer Buddies.

WTS: Does any one memory stand out?

Volunteers at Adventure Team Challenge D.C.

Volunteers Eden Ellis, front, and Jeanna Buck, rear, provided essential support and enthusiasm at this year’s DC Challenge. Photograph by Sarah Bell.

KG: One of our Buddies, Ryan and his Peer Buddy, Amir. Ryan had never ridden a bike before! It took a long time for him to ride the 7.5 miles, but Amir was with him and helped him make it through. He was so proud of himself. Ryan’s father was there and was very moving for him to see Ryan doing something he’d never done before. It was a really big deal for all of them!

And I got this feedback from another parent: “As a parent of a special needs teenager, I can tell you that opportunities like this are so good for them on so many levels. [Our son] has low self esteem, and an event like Saturday’s made him feel so proud, he accomplished something great, and had lots of fun! Also he doesn’t really have any friends, so a day of ‘hanging out’ with other teenagers and wonderful adults was a real treat for him.”

WTS: That’s great! That’s our mission: to change lives through sports. We look forward to partnering with you again next year.

KG: Absolutely. And we’d love to help expand the event so we can offer it to more youth with disabilities and their families.

WTS: Agreed!

The 2016 Dralla Foundation Adventure Team Challenge Washington D.C. was presented by Dralla Foundation, in partnership with Best Buddies Capital Region. Additional support is provided by SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Edible Arrangements of DC and Arlington.

Editor’s Note: Karen Glasser serves as the Regional Director, Best Buddies Capital Region.