Military Initiative

Events to Challenge the Mind as well as the Body

Scenes from the trail

A high peak viewed from the trail during the 2010 Soldiers to the Summit Nepal Expedition, part of World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Military Initiative. Photograph copyright 2010, Didrik Johnck.

World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ inspiring Military Initiative program brings together injured veterans and able-bodied climbers, skiers, hikers, mountaineers, cyclists and water sports enthusiasts on outdoor adventures worldwide. These expeditions include a variety of outdoor sporting activities, including technical climbs of high mountain peaks, snow sports such as skiing and snowboarding, cycling events and water sports.

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

2009 Coastal Team Challenge Team

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 bicycle and hand cycle ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City that brought together a diverse team of disabled former Vietnam War combatants from Vietnam and the United States.

The popular Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia to the historic Civil War battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is the annual legacy of the Vietnam Challenge. Each April, more than 600 cyclists participate in the 110-mile, two-day ride that includes more than 130 injured military veterans from all service branches. Athletes from across the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada ride in the Face of America.

In 2010 and 2012, the Sea to Shining Sea bicycle and hand cycle ride from the Pacific to Atlantic coast provided an exceptional challenge for the participating veterans. 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 journey was documented by filmmaker Austin Smithard with 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. Sports archive photograph.

Debuting in June 2014, the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge brought together veterans from the United States, Canada and Denmark for a two-week ride from the capital of Canada, Ottawa, to the capital of the United States, 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 new community for the participating riders.

In August 2009, a team of Canadian and American veterans joined together for the inaugural Coastal Team Challenge. Held along the Pacific coast in Washington and British Columbia, the sea kayak expedition successfully navigated the sometimes rough coastal waters and helped bring together disabled athletes from both nations.

Riders celebrate in the Atlantic Ocean.

Riders celebrate at the conclusion of the 2012 Sea to Shining Sea ride in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Photograph by Parker Feierbach.

With a strong history in creating alpine expeditions and climbs of high mountains worldwide, World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summits program has organized and directed two events to date.

Partnering with Utah’s Snowbird Resort, American Airlines and Wasatch Adaptive Sports, World T.E.A.M. Sports introduced 15 disabled veterans to winter sports at the Soldiers to the Summit at Snowbird event. The February 27-March 1, 2012 event at Snowbird Resort, in the high Wasatch Mountains southeast of Salt Lake City, provided disabled veterans the opportunity to team with skilled instructors to learn and experience winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

In mid-October 2010, participants of World T.E.A.M. SportsSoldiers to the Summit Nepal expedition successfully ascended Lobuche East, the ice-and-snow covered 20,075 foot high peak near Mount Everest in Nepal. The expedition was documented in two commercial films, Recon: Conquering the Climb by The Pentagon Channel (March, 2011), and High Ground, by Stone Circle Pictures and Serac Adventure Films (February, 2012).

Marine Corps veteran David Sanatamore.

Marine Corps veteran David Santamore from Vermont participated in his first Adventure Team Challenge from World T.E.A.M. Sports in September. Photograph by Brian Gliba, Project Wounded Ego.

Injured military veterans also compete in the annual Adventure Team Challenge in Colorado. The Challenge, alternately held in the high mountains and in the desert west of Grand Junction, sees teams of five persons join together to complete stages that include off-road bicycling, river rafting, and technical rock activities on rope. For each team, two members must have disabilities, one being a wheelchair user. World T.E.A.M. Sports’ new Adventure Team Challenge in North Carolina will also include military veteran teams.

World T.E.A.M. Sports also sponsors injured military veteran athletes at outdoor events, including the IRONMAN Maryland in Cambridge, Maryland.

Future challenging and diverse sporting events, expeditions and camps for disabled military veterans are planned by World T.E.A.M. Sports in the coming years.

Chris Levi and other riders arrive in Gettysburg.

Veteran Chris Levi of New York state (on hand cycle) arrives at the Face of America finish on April 26, 2015. Photograph by Candi Clark.

Riders depart Binghamton, New York.

CanAm Veterans’ Challenge team members depart Binghamton in southern New York, June 27, 2014. Photograph by Van Brinson.