By Richard Rhinehart
Arlington, Virginia, December 9, 2013 – World T.E.A.M. Sports’ popular Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride from Washington to Gettysburg opened registration today for teams and individuals participating in the inclusive April 25-27, 2014 event.
Able-bodied civilians, active duty and retired military cyclists ride with disabled veterans from all service branches, beginning at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and concluding at the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Face of America is fully-supported for participants of all abilities, leisurely traveling 110 miles in two days, with an overnight stay in Frederick, Maryland. Experienced riders can select one or both 100 kilometer loop rides from Gettysburg on Saturday and Sunday. All participants receive a commemorative jersey at on-site registration, along with a gala dinner and a celebratory outdoor lunch in Gettysburg at the Sunday afternoon conclusion.
For participants of the annual Face of America ride from the non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, cycling with disabled veterans of America’s military provides a sense of honor and respect for those who gave so much in support of their country. “I participate to have the networking and time to chat with friends, organizers, non-disabled and most importantly, with others with disabilities. I love talking about cycling, life and success and catch up with peoples’ lives,” said Gina Utegg, a disabled rider from Tewksbury, Massachusetts who participated in her fourth ride in 2013. “I enjoy being a cyclist for two days and meeting people. It’s very helpful to talk about success, not failure, and see people progress over the years.”
Face of America is the national organization’s most popular event, attracting more than 500 riders, of which 100 or more are military veterans with disabilities ranging from loss of limb to PTSD to blindness. The ride began in 2000 as a relay cross-country ride with two teams of disabled riders riding from each coast meeting under the St. Louis arch. In 2002 and 2003, the ride ran from Ground Zero in New York to the Pentagon and honored the victims of the 9/11 attacks on America. In April 2006, the ride was re-envisioned as an inclusive event to honor those who were injured or disabled while serving in the military. Over the next seven years, a greater number of disabled Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans participated, as have additional active duty military and civilian riders.
Each civilian, retired and active duty military participant in the ride raises funds from family, friends, co-workers and colleagues to support the participation of the disabled veterans, who pay no registration, transportation or lodging fees, as well as cover event costs. Any remaining funds raised through the event are applied to other World T.E.A.M. Sports events. These include Colorado’s Adventure TEAM Challenge, an outdoor team competition with disabled and able-bodied competitors, and larger events, such as the Sea to Shining Sea ride, a cross-country bicycle ride.
Registration for participating riders and teams for the Face of America is currently underway online. There is a maximum limit of 600 participants, including veterans with disabilities.
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 has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, biking, and more. Four things always happen at our events: (1) Disabled participants build self-confidence and physical fitness; (2) The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up physical activities; (3) The disabled become a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see that disabled individuals can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination; and (4) The disabled and able-bodied participants learn to work as a team to overcome those challenges. World T.E.A.M. Sports changes lives through sports.