Canadian Veterans Joining World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Face of America Inclusive Bike Ride

By Richard Rhinehart

Holbrook, New York, April 12, 2013 – Seven veterans from the Canadian Armed Forces’ Soldier On program have accepted an invitation to travel to Washington this month to participate in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Face of America bicycle ride April 26-28.

Sponsored in part by American Portfolios Financial Services, the Canadian Armed Forces team includes veterans who served in wars and conflicts from Bosnia to Somalia, Cyprus, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Croatia. The six veterans will ride with Team American Portfolios in the 110-mile, two-day ride honoring veterans with disabilities.

Soldier On crestLon Dolber, the CEO and President of American Portfolios, notes “it will be a privilege to ride” with the Canadian Armed Forces veterans. Dolber notes that Canada and the United States have always been strong allies, are currently the world’s largest trading partners and share the world’s longest border. A World T.E.A.M. Sports director, Dolber participated with Canadian Armed Forces veterans in two earlier events from the non-profit organization, including 2009’s Coastal Team Challenge in the Pacific Northwest.

“It is truly an honor to have these Canadian service members participate in our event,” said Van Brinson, Chief Operations Officer for World T.E.A.M. Sports. “Events such as this strengthen the ties that bind our two nations together by highlighting the similarities that we share. The participation of the Canadian team adds another dimension the ride, and is something that we intend to expand in future events.”

World T.E.A.M. Sports CEO and President looks forward to the participating veteran riders. “We welcome these soldiers from our great neighbor and partner to the North. We also want to thank them for the sacrifices they made for Canada and the greater cause of democracy.”

The Face of America begins on April 26 with a gala dinner in Arlington, with an anticipated 500 participants, including more than 100 disabled veterans. The following morning, the riders set off to Gettysburg from the Pentagon, using bicycles, recumbent bicycles and hand cycles.

Master Warrant Officer Michael Fuentespina is the captain of the Canadian Soldier On team. Joining Canada Armed Forces in 1991 as a medic, he specializes in aeromedical evacuation. Completing a tour in Bosnia, as well as working with U.S. Forces in Germany and Afghanistan, Fuentespina currently works at the Canadian Armed Forces’ Joint Personnel Support Unit in Winnipeg, Manitoba assisting ill and injured soldiers.

“The Face of America ride provides our injured veterans with an opportunity, outside of the deployed environment they are familiar with, to once again share adversity and build camaraderie with our American brothers and sisters in arms,” said Fuetespina.

Master Corporal Tom Power joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1989. Currently serving as an Aero Engine Technician in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Power spent time with Search and Rescue in Africa and Croatia. An active runner and triathlete, Power enjoys spending time with his family, camping, hiking, bicycling and talking to his dog while relaxing on his porch.

Master Corporal Brian Preece currently serves the Canadian Armed Forces through working on both fixed and rotor wing aircraft. Spending much of his career on Canada’s east coast, he also has completed an operational tour in support of Middle East operations. Preece is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his trike to work as weather permits.

Having been stationed in the Netherlands, Germany, Africa and Norway, retired Supply Tech and Signal Regiment veteran Dean Peach now lives in Nova Scotia. Originally joining as a reserve, Peach spent 25 years in military service.

A Combat Engineer who was deployed on six tours including Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan and Kuwait, Master Warrant Officer Michael Cotts retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 2012. He joined the military in 1986.

Fred Connor

Fred Connor shakes hands with Peter MacKay, Canada’s Minister of National Defence. Chris Mikula photograph.

Another recent retiree from the Canadian Armed Forces, Captain Sean Stadnisky has completed tours in the Middle East, Arabian Gulf and Afghanistan. Enrolling in 1997 as a Supply Technician, Stadnisky changed trades in 2007 to Personnel Selection Officer.

Retired Warrant Officer Fred Connor joined the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve in 1984. Two years later, he transferred to the Regular Force and became a cook. Prior to retiring in 2008, he completed tours in Cyprus and Croatia. Today, he spends his recreational time in vegetable gardening, fishing, practicing martial arts, and refinishing antiques. Connor is also an active cyclist and is looking forward to “being able to participate, get on the road, meet people, cry, persevere and to make lasting friendships.”

Soldier On riders will travel to New York on April 25, and travel with the American Portfolios Team to Arlington on April 26.

About Soldier On
The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to helping ill and injured personnel and their loved ones, through programs ranging from excellent medical care to vocational assistance to social support and counseling. Soldier On is an integral component of the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CF) recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration model for serving and retired CF members with a visible or non-visible injury. Since its inception, Soldier On has helped more than 630 injured serving and retired CF members access equipment, training and facilitated participation in a wide range of activities from alpine skiing to fishing to water skiing to adventure expeditions. This re-introduction to an active lifestyle provides injured members with opportunities to develop new skills, build hope and confidence in their abilities, and to realize their full potential. Many injured members credit Soldier On with helping them to overcome their challenges and move forward in life.

About World T.E.A.M. Sports
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in North Carolina and headquartered in Holbrook, New York. Celebrating 20 years in 2013, World T.E.A.M. Sports organizes athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, bicycling, and more. In all our events we include both disabled and able-bodied participants with all participants working as a team to overcome challenges. Our events encourage disabled participants to build self-confidence and physical fitness while providing a role model for other disabled citizens. World T.E.A.M. Sports events also encourage the disabled to take up physical activities and become a moving inspiration to other participants, as well as spectators who see that the disabled can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination. We change lives through sports.

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