Military Initiative

Programs to Challenge the Mind as well as the Body

Bill Czyzewski at the conclusion of the 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride.
World T.E.A.M. has a long history of creating inclusive events for adaptive military veterans, like Bill Czyzewski, who completed the cross-country Sea to Shining Sea ride in July 2012. Photograph by Van Brinson.

Vietnam Challenge (1998)
Face of America Gettysburg (2000, 2001-2002, 2006-2020)
Coastal Team Challenge (2009)
Sea to Shining Sea (2010 and 2012)
Soliders to the Summit (2010 and 2011)
CanAm Veterans Challenge (2014)
Face of America Liberty (2015-2018)

World T.E.A.M.‘s inspiring Military Initiative brings together adaptive military veterans and able-bodied climbers, skiers, hikers, mountaineers, cyclists and water sports enthusiasts. These programs and expeditions worldwide include technical climbs of high mountain peaks, snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding, cycling and water sports.

This ongoing program is a commitment to help adaptive military veterans break through perceived constraints. Participants overcome emotional, physical and technical boundaries, and realize their endeavors in life are possible. Participants include veterans from wars and conflicts from Korea through Vietnam, Bosnia, the Gulf War and Afghanistan and Iraq.

2009 Coastal Team Challenge Team
Lon Dolber (back row, fourth from left) and the 2009 Coastal Team Challenge team stands on Jericho Beach. The team included both American and Canadian injured veterans. Photograph courtesy Lon Dolber.

The Military Initiative program began with the January 1998 Vietnam Challenge, a cycling challenge from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. This ride brought together a diverse team of adaptive former Vietnam War combatants from Vietnam and the United States. Kartemquin Films documented the Challenge in their award-winning 1998 documentary, “Vietnam, Long Time Coming.” The Challenge was an important step in healing the invisible wounds of war.

World T.E.A.M.‘s popular Face of America Gettysburg cycling challenge ends at the historic Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is the legacy of the Vietnam Challenge. Each April, 500 cyclists complete a two-day journey from Arlington, Virginia. The program includes nearly 100 adaptive military veterans from all service branches and from across North America, Puerto Rico and Europe.

Face of America Liberty was Face of America Gettysburg’s companion cycling challenge. The one-day program in the fall from Sleepy Hollow to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York honored adaptive military veterans. This event ran from 2015-2018.

Select military veterans rode the Sea to Shining Sea cycling challenge from the Pacific to Atlantic coast in 2010 and 2012. It provided an exceptional challenge for the adaptive and able-bodied athletes. With disabilities ranging from blindness to amputation to paralysis to Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries, these veterans rode across America in two months. The 2010 cross country journey was documented by filmmaker Austin Smithard in his feature film, “Two Shining Seas.”

Vietnam Challenge team mates.
American and Vietnam veterans grew closer during the 16 day ride from Hanoi. World T.E.A.M. archive photograph.

World T.E.A.M.‘s June 2014 CanAm Veterans’ Challenge brought together veterans from the United States, Canada and Denmark for a two-week cycling challenge from Ottawa, to Washington D.C. The ride through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia not only demonstrated to the public the determination and perseverance of athletes with disabilities, but also created a supportive community for the participating riders.

In early August 2009, Canadian and American military veterans joined together for the Coastal Team Challenge. Held along the Pacific coast in Washington and British Columbia, the sea kayak expedition successfully navigated the sometimes rough coastal waters. It helped bring together adaptive military veterans from both nations.

Robin Williams and veteran Eric Frazier.
Robin Williams admires injured veteran Eric Frazier’s hand cycle during the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea ride from World T.E.A.M. Tony Avelar/AP Images for State Farm/World T.E.A.M.

With a strong history in creating alpine expeditions and climbs of high mountains worldwide, World T.E.A.M.‘s Soldiers to the Summit hosted two challenging programs.

In mid-October 2010, participants of the Soldiers to the Summit Nepal expedition successfully ascended Lobuche East. This ice-and-snow covered 20,075-foot peak near Mount Everest required technical climbing. Two documentary films, Recon: Conquering the Climb by The Pentagon Channel (March, 2011), and High Ground, by Stone Circle Pictures and Serac Adventure Films (February, 2012) documented the expedition.

Partnering with Utah’s Snowbird Resort, American Airlines and Wasatch Adaptive Sports, World T.E.A.M. introduced 15 adaptive military veterans to winter sports at the Soldiers to the Summit at Snowbird. The February 27-March 1, 2012 program at Snowbird Resort provided adaptive veterans the opportunity to learn from skilled instructors. Athletes experienced winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Riders gather in Lowville, New York.
A group of CanAm Veterans’ Challenge riders gather in Lowville, New York, on route to Rome. From left, British Columbia veteran Dan Bodden, New Hampshire veteran Harry Carr, Virginia veteran Marina Libro, Virginia, and Colorado veterans Scott Bates and Jose Santiago. Photograph courtesy Steve Virkler, Johnson Newspapers.

World T.E.A.M. sponsors adaptive military veteran teams participating in several outdoor sporting programs. Past programs include the IRONMAN Maryland in Cambridge, Maryland, and the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia.

Future challenging and diverse sporting programs, expeditions and camps for adaptive military veterans are planned.

Summit team on Lobuche 2010
Team photo on the summit of Lobuche during World T.E.A.M.’s 2010 Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition. Photograph © 2010 Didrik Johnck.
Athletes at Face of America 2018
Athletes at the 2018 Face of America ride through northern Maryland to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. World T.E.A.M. archive image.
Riders depart Binghamton, New York.
Team members depart Binghamton in southern New York during the CanAm Veteran’s Challenge, June 27, 2014. Photograph by Van Brinson.
Crossing the Hudson River in New York.
Cyclists cross the Hudson River in New York during the 2018 Face of America Liberty to West Point. World T.E.A.M. archive image.