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Sunny Skies Greet Coastal Team Challenge Athletes

By Richard Rhinehart

August 19, 2014, Smith Point County Park, New York – Athletes from the 2014 Coastal Team Challenge from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports are enjoying dinner and camping at Smith Point County Park this evening, following 12 nautical miles of travel by sea kayak along the southern coast of New York’s Long Island.

Under a brilliant blue summer sky with temperatures in the low 70s, the teams of developmentally and physically disabled athletes and able-bodied athletes left Westhampton Beach and paddled along the coast using Hobie two-person Mirage Oasis kayaks. Remaining within sight of the shore, the teams enjoyed calm seas and light winds for their journey.

Following dinner, the teams will camp out under the stars on the beach, before Wednesday’s early start. For the second and final day of the Challenge, teams will have the option of selecting a 14 nautical mile paddle or following a shorter eight nautical mile route to Patchogue. The Challenge will conclude with a late afternoon celebration and dinner at the Dublin Deck with friends, families and followers.

Sponsors and partners for the 2014 Coastal Team Challenge include Independent Group Home Living Program, American Portfolios Financial Services, TimeCapital and Capital One Bank. Each partner provides valued support for the Challenge, from sponsorship funding to logistical support to volunteer assistance.

Get Ready to Paddle

The Coastal Team Challenge from World T.E.A.M. Sports was postponed one week owing to inclement weather on Long Island, New York. Photograph by Alex Rohman.

Staging the sea kayaks.

The sea kayaks are readied for the start of the 2014 Coastal Team Challenge. Photograph by Van Brinson.

2014 Coastal Team Challenge team members.

Team members for the 2014 Coastal Team Challenge pose for a group photograph prior to the start of the event. Photograph by Van Brinson.

On kayaks along the coast.

Coastal Team Challenge teams paddle and pedal the kayaks to Smith Point County Park, along the southern coast of Long Island. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Rest stop along the coast.

First rest stop for the Coastal Team Challenge athletes. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Lunch break on the beach.

Team members stand along the beach at the lunch break. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Along the Long Island coast.

Coastal Team Challenge athletes enjoy their coastal journey. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Teams at the end of the first day.

Teams gather to celebrate the completion of the first day of the Coastal Team Challenge. Photograph courtesy Van Brinson.

World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge Returns to Colorado’s High Country

By Richard Rhinehart

July 30, 2014, Eagle, Colorado – National non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Adventure Team Challenge returns to Colorado’s Gore Range September 12-14, following two years in the high Colorado Plateau. The multi-sport, multi-team adventure race features teams of disabled and able-bodied athletes competing together in an inclusive outdoor adventure described as one of America’s most challenging by experienced adventure athletes.

Team work at the 2011 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado.

Working together as a team is critical for success at World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado’s high mountains. Photograph by Tom Nardi.

Hosted at the rustic Rancho del Rio fishing resort along the Colorado River in the rugged Gore Mountains northwest of Vail, the Adventure Team Challenge sends teams of five athletes, two of whom are disabled, one being a wheelchair user, through the mountain terrain in the three-stage event. For the athletes with disabilities, and their able-bodied colleagues, the race provides an opportunity to explore the high country wilderness. Participants also learn the exceptional value of cooperation, teamwork and physical fitness.

Rafting on the Colorado River.

Rafting on the Colorado River east of State Bridge, Colorado is a major stage of the Adventure Team Challenge. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

This year’s Challenge follows seven previous annual events hosted at Rancho del Rio, along the Arkansas River south of Leadville and in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction. Through the years, nearly 250 athletes have participated in the Challenge, including more than 100 athletes with disabilities ranging from blindness to loss of limb to paralysis to traumatic brain injury. Past athletes have included military veterans and civilians aged from early teens to late 60s, some of whom had not previously ventured off pavement or camped in a tent. Challenge athletes camp in the outdoors, share catered communal meals and strategize for the following day’s stage by lantern and campfire light.

Climbing a granite rock pinnacle.

A team climbs a granite rock outcropping along the Colorado River during the 2011 Adventure Team Challenge. Photograph by Tom Nardi.

Directed since 2009 by knowledgeable adventure race specialists Billy and Helene Mattison of Vail, Colorado, the Challenge includes rafting in Class 3 and Class 4 rapids, off-road mountain bicycling on steep, rocky trails, and technical rope activities, including rappelling and zip lining. Each year, the directors change and adjust the sporting activities so returning teams will not have an advantage over first-time teams. Participating teams from across America include non-profit and club teams competing against corporate and military teams. Despite the difficulties of the stages, all participating men and women have remarkably finished the courses each year.

With a growing interest in the Challenge by persons with disabilities, and a limited number of available opportunities, this year World T.E.A.M. Sports extends an invitation to interested persons with disabilities to complete a short online survey to indicate their interest. The submitted applications will permit the event coordinators to match interested candidates with teams seeking disabled team members. Deadline for submissions is August 11.

The 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado is held under permit from the Bureau of Land Management Kremmling Field Office and is permitted by the US Adventure Racing Association. Sponsors for the 2014 Challenge include Front Street Re, Benson Botsford LLC, and Penske Truck Rental. Event partners include Timberline Tours and Venture Sports.

Learn more about the 2014 Adventure Team Challenge Colorado.

The Rancho del Rio camp at the Adventure Team Challenge Colorado.

The 2014 Adventure Team Challenge returns to Rancho del Rio along the Colorado River north of Eagle for the first time since 2011. Photograph by Richard Rhinehart.

World T.E.A.M. Sports’ CanAm Veterans’ Challenge Concludes July 4

By Richard Rhinehart

July 1, 2014, Washington, DC – Injured veterans from Canada, the United States and Denmark are riding Pennsylvania’s and Maryland’s scenic byways to America’s capital this week as the 766-mile, 16 day inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge from non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports concludes.

CanAm Team at Parliament.

The inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge team at Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, June 20, 2014. Photograph courtesy Rebecca Brashears.

Riding bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bikes, the two-week journey from Canada’s Parliament in Ottawa, Ontario comes to an end at the steps of the Capitol in Washington. The group is scheduled to participate in the prestigious National Independence Day Parade on the National Mall, presented by the National Park Service on July 4.

The 16 injured veterans and nine able-bodied colleagues began their ride on June 20 and passed through Ontario, New York and Pennsylvania on their way to the capital. Along the journey, the riders joined together as a team, sharing meals and visits to attractions such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Many communities, businesses and service organizations welcomed the team members into their town, providing receptions, dinners and special events.

Marina Libro receives an assist on a hill.

Veteran Marina Libro receives a helping hand from three team members in a steep ascent in central Pennsylvania. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Many of the participating veterans saw active service in wars and conflicts from Vietnam and Bosnia to Iraq and Afghanistan. Their service to their country resulted in the loss of limbs, paralysis, blindness, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. Riding together helped create a new sense of community for these veterans, as well as demonstrate that individuals with disabilities are capable of exceptional achievements.

Tackling steep ascents in Pennsylvania’s mountains together, the riders found that teamwork helps conquer challenges any one member may face. Riding long miles between rest stops, the riders created strong friendships that will last beyond the conclusion of the Challenge.

Riders depart Binghamton, New York.

Team members depart Binghamton in southern New York June 27, 2014. Photograph by Van Brinson.

“I volunteered to do this ride, because of my love for my country and brothers and sisters in arms,” said Army veteran Steve Baskis of Illinois. “Having lost my vision in Iraq in 2008, I returned back to the United States without the ability to see the beautiful country I grew up in. The CanAm ride provides a blind soldier a unique experience and perspective of North America.”

“I am doing this ride because I want to prove to myself that I can do this and any other challenge that I put my mind to,” said Idaho National Guard veteran Marc Gabiger, who works with the Idaho Steelheads, an ECHL professional hockey team.

Riders gather in Lowville, New York.

A group of CanAm Veterans’ Challenge riders gather in Lowville, New York, on route to Rome. From left, British Columbia veteran Dan Bodden, New Hampshire veteran Harry Carr, Virginia veteran Marina Libro, Virginia, and Colorado veterans Scott Bates and Jose Santiago. Photograph courtesy Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers.

Robert Bidder, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces since 1985, looks to the Challenge as an opportunity for “social interaction for those who otherwise might have difficulties due to symptoms related to operational stress injuries. My military career is coming to an end this fall, but I hope to be able to remain in a position where I can assist injured or ill veterans.”

Corporate sponsors for the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge include Realty Capital Securities LLC, American Portfolios Financial Services, Benson Botsford LLC, Exit 10, Gerstein Fisher, Penske Truck Rental, Pershing and Freshbikes. Partners include Wounded Warriors Canada and Soldier On from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Visit the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge web site for detailed ride information.

Inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge Bicycle Ride with Injured Veterans to Inspire

By Richard Rhinehart

Ottawa, Ontario, June 17, 2014 – For 14 days beginning June 20, a team of 16 injured Canadian, American and Danish veterans in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural CanAm Veterans’ Challenge will ride bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent bicycles nearly 800 miles from the capital of Canada to the capital of the United States.

Steve Baskis climbing.

Army veteran Steve Baskis lost his sight in Iraq. Yet, he is active in outdoor sports, including rock climbing. Photograph courtesy of Steve Baskis.

Departing from the steps of Canada’s Parliament at 9 a.m. June 20, the riders will travel from ten to 90 miles each day as they pass through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia on their way to Washington. Arriving in the capital on July 4, the team will participate in the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue before completing their journey.

Participating riders include war and conflict veterans who served in Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Joining the veterans will be nine able-bodied riders, two serving as pilots for blind veterans riding tandem bicycles. Other veterans have experienced loss of limb, paralysis, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries during their national service.

“The CanAm ride will provide a blind soldier a unique experience and perspective of North America,” said Army veteran Steve Baskis, who lost his sight in Iraq. “Along the way between two nations, I hope to motivate and inspire others to dream big and go far.”

“I am doing the ride to connect with other injured soldiers who are trying to overcome their limitations through participation in fitness-related activities,” said Canadian Armed Forces veteran Michael Fuentespina, who completed tours in Bosnia and in Afghanistan. “I hope to learn from their experiences and use this both personally and professionally.”

Michael Fuetespina.

Canadian Armed Forces veteran Michael Fuentespina completed tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Photograph courtesy Michael Fuentespina.

U.S. Navy veteran Scott Bates looks at the ride as a way to recover from his service-related injuries. “Cycling itself can even be looked at as a metaphor. While you may not be the fastest or most talented, if you are persistent and do not give up, you will cover vast distances sooner than you realize,” Bates said.

Retired Master Sergeant Marina Libro is the only woman veteran participating in the ride. Libro retired from her Army service in 2011. “This is why I ride,” Libro said. “Cycling keeps me sane. When I can’t ride physically, I am riding mentally. I am beginning to open up more and tell my story more because of cycling. Cycling is my safe place. That is what I hope to get back to on each ride I go on: my safe place, my place to decompress and to physically exert and challenge myself in a safe environment with other people just like me. People say you can’t see your soul – I can: every time I look at my trike.”

Created by World T.E.A.M. Sports, the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge is the latest sporting event by the national non-profit organization. For more than two decades, the New York-based organization has developed and managed inclusive sporting events for persons with disabilities and able-bodied persons. This unique combination illustrates the benefits of teamwork and cooperation – that by working together, great challenges can be overcome. World T.E.A.M. Sports looks to the “coalition of the riding” in the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge to provide inspiration to other persons with disabilities and to the public.

Corporate sponsors for the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge include Realty Capital Securities LLC, American Portfolios Financial Services, Benson Botsford LLC, Exit 10, Gerstein Fisher, Penske Truck Rental, and Pershing. Partners include Wounded Warriors Canada and Soldier On from the Canadian Armed Forces.

Visit the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge website.

Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.

Jens Sondergaard

Danish Army veteran Jens Sondergaard on his bike at Danish Army headquarters. The flag on his bike was used by two sled teams in Greenland with the Danish Sirius Patrol. Photograph courtesy Jens Sondergaard.

Site Credits

The World T.E.A.M. Sports website was designed and developed by Exit 10 Advertising.

Content updates by Richard Rhinehart, Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.