By Richard Rhinehart
Arlington, Virginia, April 24, 2018 – Adaptive athletes from across North America, Puerto Rico and Europe are arriving this week in Arlington and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to participate in national non-profit World T.E.A.M.’s 16th annual Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride to historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania April 28-29.
The annual two-day journey presented by Capital One includes retired and active duty military, civilians and first responders who join together in this inclusive cycling event to honor military veterans who have been injured or disabled in their national service. Nearly 100 adaptive veterans and civilians are participating in the ride, covering 112 miles from Arlington and 136 miles from Valley Forge. Many of these adaptive athletes live with amputations, paralysis, blindness, Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
One of the largest non-competitive inclusive bicycling events in the country with nearly 600 participants on two routes, Face of America is welcomed by Maryland and Pennsylvania communities at local fire houses, parks and community centers. At the Links at Gettysburg golf course at the state line south of Gettysburg, community residents line Mason Dixon Road each year to cheer on riders as they pedal the final miles to the historic Civil War battlefields. At Station 5 of the East Whiteland Fire Department in Malvern, Pennsylvania, community members turn out to warmly welcome the riders to the station’s rest stop.
With participating adaptive veterans who served in wars and conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, Face of America offers an opportunity for meaningful engagement and empowerment. Riding miles alongside each other on bicycles allows social barriers to be broken down between groups, encouraging communication between diverse individuals from different backgrounds and experiences. Adaptive veterans also appreciate the physical and mental fitness gained by participating in challenging outdoor athletic events such as Face of America. It is immensely rewarding to an adaptive athlete to successfully finish two days of bicycling.
Each year, Face of America includes a diversity of participating athletes. This diversity is critical for the event’s success, as many adaptive military veterans become isolated after retiring medically from their service. Meeting other veterans and civilians from all backgrounds helps these individuals regain their sense of a national community. For many, friendships and connections made during Face of America continue long after the athletes return home.
Celebrating 25 years in 2018, non-profit World T.E.A.M. creates powerful inclusive outdoor sporting events that challenge adaptive and able-bodied athletes. In the last quarter century, World T.E.A.M. athletes have bicycled around the world, climbed high mountain peaks in three continents, pedaled across North America four times and joined former military combatants in Vietnam for a cross-country ride. World T.E.A.M.’s Face of America was first held as a cross-country ride in 2000. In 2002 and 2003, it served as the official memorial ride between New York and the Pentagon for victims of the September 11 attacks upon America.
The 2018 Face of America is presented by Capital One and supported through generous sponsorship and partnerships from American Portfolios Financial Services, American Airlines, Brioni, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cannondale, DELL EMC, Devens Recycling Center, Flying Dog, Forescout, KT Tape, Mt. Airy Bicycle Company, Navy Federal Credit Union, Penske Truck Rental, Pershing LLC, Sila Solutions, SUBWAY of the Walter Reed National Military Center, Tingley and Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church.