By Richard Rhinehart
Grand Junction, Colorado, October 1, 2013 – In western Colorado’s rugged redrock desert, team members participating in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Adventure TEAM Challenge depended on each other to successfully navigate each stage of the inspiring three day race.
Retired Marine Corps veteran David Santamore of Barre, Vermont understands the critical importance of teamwork and cooperation in any successful venture. A Vietnam veteran, Santamore lost his left leg above the knee in 2005 when a vehicle broadsided his motorcycle. In the scenic McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area along the Colorado River not far from the Utah border, Santamore found strength in his team members.
“I am reminded of the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles,” Santamore said, recalling his experience at the September 13-15 Challenge. “That if time is not an issue, virtually anyone can do virtually anything.”
Traveling across the country to participate in his first Challenge, Santamore leaned he was teamed with the CEO and President of World T.E.A.M. Sports; a visually impared multiple stroke veteran; a T11/T12 paralyzed wheelchair user; and a young rafting guide and adventurer. Together, the team would overcome challenges both physical and mental to successfully complete the annual event.
“Overall, the willingness of each member of the team to work together and create a cooperative bond with a group of people they had just met a few hours earlier was truly heartwarming,” said Santamore.
With World T.E.A.M. Sports’ CEO Paul Tyler, Santamore clipped into a tandem mountain bike for the first time. Not having used a regular pedal bicycle since his 2005 accident, Santamore was comforted when he learned Tyler also had never rode a tandem, even though he is an experienced triathlete. “I’m not sure if we spent more time on the bike or on the ground,” Santamore recalled.
Another team member, Air Force veteran Harry Carr of New London, New Hampshire, is visually impaired and hasn’t driven a car in the last decade. Yet, “Harry got on a mountain bike for the first time in 15 years and tackled some very challenging terrain with a warrior’s attitude,” said Santamore. “He kept getting up and continuing after each fall. He willingly took on each challenge and supported the team in each leg of the event.”
With Palisade, Colorado athlete Keegan Reilly using a hand cycle, Santamore’s team depended on the strength of their youngest team member, Margaret Ritz, to assist Keegan in crossing difficult terrain. A rafting guide with Timberline Sports, Ritz is also an experienced and energetic adventure athlete. “Margaret was tenacious in her desire to help the team succeed. Her willingness to do whatever necessary to help the team was inspiring,” said Santamore. “Whether it be carrying extra gear, assisting team members through the obstacles, or acting as medic. She was a can do team member.”
Currently serving as a mentor at a local elementary school, as well as at a community justice center, Santamore also helps facilitate a wheel chair basketball program at a local Vermont church. “If you’re ready to get involved in sports, get in touch with a local adaptive sports club and go for it,” he said.
Regarding his own interest in sports as an amputee athlete, Santamore has a positive attitude. “My amputation is a temporary pain in the butt until I figure out how to do whatever it is that I want to do.”
The 2013 Adventure TEAM Challenge was sponsored by Fidelity & Guaranty Life, Penske Truck Rental and Timberline Tours. Competing team sponsors included Benson Botsford LLC, Deven’s Recycling Center, Integrated Healthcare Strategies, and the Independence Fund.
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.
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.