Selected Participating ATC Colorado 2014 Athletes
Participating athletes at the 2014 Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado have remarkable backgrounds and life experiences. Compiled by World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Sarah Bell, here are selected athletes who are scheduled to participate at the September 12-14 event at Rancho del Rio in Colorado’s rugged Gore Range northeast of Eagle.
Mike is a retired Marine helicopter pilot who now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida. Since retiring last year, Mike has been traveling extensively across the Americas hiking, biking, and participating in adventure activities while starting a real estate investment company. In addition to combat in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, Mike’s military career was defined by saving lives and relieving suffering. Notably, in Iraq he commanded HMM-161, a helicopter squadron that evacuated more than 450 service members with urgent life-threatening injuries from the battlefield; and in Asia from 2009-2011 he led forces in disaster relief operations in the Philippines on two occasions following typhoons and mainland Japan immediately following the devastating tsunami and damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor. This will be Mike’s first Adventure Team Challenge.
Kevin lives in Erie, Colorado. He spent nine years in the Navy as an Arabic linguist and served in Iraq before losing his vision from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease. An avid cross country skier, Kevin learned how to adaptive ski with the aid of a guide who skis in front of him and gives him directions on the course. In 2014, Kevin became a member of the USA Paralympic team in Sochi where he competed in cross country skiing and the biathlon. To aim his shot, he listens to headphones that tell him how close he is and whether or not he is on target.
Mike is from Fredericton, New Brunswick. He served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years as a combat engineer in Somalia, Kuwait, Bosnia and Afghanistan. After being medically released for Post Traumatic Stress, Mike turned to exercise for relief. He has completed numerous triathlons and many long distance runs. Currently he is training for a 50 mile run that will take place in November. He is an avid Crossfitter and works as a trainer at a Crossfit gym. Last year, Mike competed in his first World T.E.A.M. Sports’ event at the Face of America ride. He recalls that he was very overwhelmed at the event, but when he returned in June 2014 for the organization’s CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, he found himself a changed man – cheerful, engaged, and outspoken. “World T.E.A.M. Sports truly does change live through sports!” he says.
Ben lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is a Veteran Transition Specialist with AspenPointe. Ben works closely with multiple veteran non-profit organizations: Team Red, White, & Blue, Team Rubicon, and Phoenix Multisport. Ben served in the Army for 13 years as a combat medic. During his service he has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. When he isn’t at work, you can find him rock climbing, mountain biking, running races or on the obstacle course.
Robb is a lifelong Colorado resident who started skiing, backpacking, and climbing in his youth. In 1975, he moved to Boulder to be a “fun hog,” – which he describes as the stereo-typical Boulder jock with a bad case of Peter Pan syndrome. Robb owns a construction company, is married and has two grown daughters, with whom he has traveled the world. In 2005, a random infection resulted in both of Robb’s legs being amputated below the knee. After recovery and some attitude adjustment, Robb got back on the fun hog, so to speak, and he continues to ice and rock climb, and bike hard four days a week. This will be Robb’s second Adventure Team Challenge.
Erik is a small business owner and works in real estate. He spends his free time practicing martial arts, skiing, mountain biking, road biking, rock climbing and swimming. Erik is also a T5 paraplegic who has been involved in adaptive sports since his injury in 1984 at the age of 19. He is married, has three children and lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Steph is an able-bodied athlete who lives in Boston, Massachusetts where she works as an administrator at Harvard University. In her free time, she enjoys running and adventure sports, and completed her first full marathon in 2013 as well as numerous Tough Mudders and obstacle course races. She is a huge supporter of Boston sports, particular the Bruins and the Patriots, and she loves spending hours in her kitchen concocting new recipes to cook up.
John is an artist from Fruita, Colorado who paints landscapes in oil. In his free time, he enjoys mountain biking and trail running. This will be John’s third year participating in the Adventure Team Challenge. He is inspired by the transformation of the athletes over the weekend and their joy and camaraderie as they realize what they are capable of. “The feeling at this race cannot be replicated in any other facet of my life,” he says. He has been married for 14 years to his wife Emily, and they have three daughters, Ellie, Josie, and Rosie.
Dan is a lifelong Colorado resident who currently resides in Estes Park. As a flight instructor and captain in the Colorado Air National Guard, Dan survived a fiery plane crash in 2002 that left him paralyzed. Told he would never walk again, the avid outdoors sportsman threw himself into wheelchair activities like Nordic mono-skiing and off-road hand cycling. Several years later, the feeling began to return to his legs and Dan began to learn to walk again, crediting his involvement in adaptive sports with his remarkable recovery. Dan is now a satellite engineer, adaptive ski instructor, charcoal artist and the Men’s Ministry Director for Rocky Mountain Church. He is married to Jana Marshall and has two teenage children.
Wm. Paul Meehan
Paul lives in Ashburn, Virginia and is the CEO and Founder of Peak Wellness Partners, a nutrition and fitness coaching practice. When he’s not working you can find him on his bicycle training for various endurance cycling events most of which support charities. Ten years ago Paul shattered his T-12 vertebrae in a cycling accident that required major surgery and a long recovery and rehab. His doctors told him he would be lucky to ever ride more than a couple of miles on a bike. Paul credits the support of his wife, Valentina and their two children, hard work, good nutrition and a never-quit attitude with his full recovery. He now rides thousands of miles a year.
Brett is from Mesa, Colorado, works in environmental compliance and is passionate about the outdoors. You can usually find him there: skiing, running, rafting, biking, fishing, hiking, hunting, or working on his ranch, where he lives with his wife and two little girls. He is an able-bodied athlete who became familiar with adaptive sports through his friend and fellow Adventure Team Challenge teammate Keegan Reilly. “My goal is to keep up with Keegan. I find him inspiring,” says Brett. We’ll see if he can do it again this year!
Ian hails from Dayton, Ohio, where he was raised on a pig farm. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Ian joined the army and in 2004 he was deployed to Iraq. In December 2006, when enemy fighters ambushed his convoy, Ian’s fellow soldier Ross McGinniss lost his life jumping on a hand grenade to save the lives of Ian and several others. Ian was injured severely, receiving shrapnel wounds to his face, arms and legs. He spent five years rehabilitating his wounds and has recently been training to become an amateur athlete. Now living in Colorado, Ian is an avid public speaker and supporter of many wounded warrior and veterans’ programs. He and his wife Alexandra are expecting their first child this September!
Guillermo is from Colorado Springs and the Vice President at KOM Sports, a boutique agency that specializes in sports marketing and event activation, brand development, sponsorship sales, property development with additional services for athlete representation, communications and strategic planning. Guillermo is an avid runner, cyclist and participates in triathlons. He enjoys hiking with his wife and fellow Adventure Team Challenge teammate Amanda Puskar, their ten year old daughter, and dog Dallas.
Jarrod is an able-bodied athlete from Golden, Colorado. He works as a software developer for Trimble and counts among his favorite hobbies fly fishing, although lately he’s had to cut back on fishing time to care for his energetic four- and five-year old sons.
Jamey lives in Pendleton, Oregon where she works a civil engineer for the beautiful Umatilla National Forest in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. Her hobbies include anything that will get her outside, from gardening to skiing. Jamey has a large family and says they are massively supportive of her and are “gracious enough to only try to dissuade me when my plans get truly overzealous. This happens on occasion, mainly in regards to my adaptive sports.” Mono skiing, along with rides on her recumbent and a kayak trip right around backpacking season every year, mean the world to her. She says, “If wild places hold any value for you, after spinal cord injury, you have to think creatively about how you are going to access those environments and reinvent how you engage them in a fulfilling way.” This will be Jamey’s first Adventure Team Challenge.
Gina is from Tewksbury, Massachusetts and a returning Adventure Team Challenge athlete. In 2001, she suffered a serious automobile accident that left her with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress syndrome, spinal cord damage, and central nervous system damage. Then, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, and surgery, chemo, and radiation followed. After her initial injury, she began adaptive cycling and liked that it gave her more freedom. She is now a member of an expert group of recumbent cyclists and frequently participates in various paratriathlons, skis, indoor climbs, kayaks, practices stand up paddleboard yoga, and recently competed in the PanMass Challenge, where she was one of just a few recumbent bicyclists. Gina describes her most important job: being a positive role model and great mother to her daughter, as well as a terrific wife, aunt, and friend.
Tina is originally from Effingham, Illinois and now resides in Longmont, Colorado where she works as a speech language pathologist at a skilled nursing facility. In 2007, Tina lost her balance near an open second-story window and fell, injuring her spinal cord. Using her positive outlook on life, Tina became heavily involved in wheelchair 5Ks, 10Ks, and mini-marathons. Soon, she began rock climbing, hand cycling and paddle boarding and is looking forward to learning adaptive mountain biking and participating in a Biathlon.
Martin was born and raised in Poland and moved to the US when he was granted political asylum at age 20. He now lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. After leaving the U.S. Army in 1996, he opened a web development company. He spends most of his free time outdoors, skiing and ski racing in the winter and mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and trail running in the summer. In 2000, he began volunteering as an adaptive ski instructor and quickly transitioned to coaching adaptive ski racing. He has also organized and led whitewater events in Utah and Colorado for people with disabilities. He is an advocate for creating equitable access to specific areas of public lands for people with disabilities as well.