World T.E.A.M. Sports (WTS), known for its inclusive athletic programming around the country, launched a new event located in the desert of the American southwest. World T.E.A.M. Challenge: Valley of the Sun is a one-day cycling challenge bringing adaptive and able-bodied athletes together for a 40-mile ride through the desert. The event took place on Saturday, January 27, 2024 beginning and ending in Carefree, 30 miles north of Phoenix.
“We were so excited to bring a new program to the southwest during this cold stretch of winter,” said WTS CEO and President, Jon Brideau. “Our athletes and supporters had the unique opportunity to experience our inclusive mission in a whole new setting, riding along the iconic backdrop of the Sonoran Desert.”
Cycling with our riders was retired US Colonel and current World T.E.A.M. board member, Gregory Gadson, who has participated in WTS events since 2009. Gadson is now the co-author, with Terese Schlachter, of his biography Finding Waypoints: A Warrior’s Journey Towards Peace and Purpose.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support of the Osaic Foundation, their employees, and associated advisors, many of whom traveled from around the country to support World TEAM for the first time,” says Brideau. “I also want to thank our board members, Lon Dolber and Greg Gadson for joining us and helping create a new program in an unfamiliar part of the country.”
World T.E.A.M. Challenge: Valley of the Sun was funded in part by the Osaic Foundation, the community service arm of Osaic, one of the nation’s largest providers of wealth management services. Both the company and its foundation are based in Phoenix.
Both organizations intend to grow Valley of the Sun into an annual event on the WTS calendar. Modeled after the Face of America: Gettysburg ride, WTS’s flagship cycling event, Valley of the Sun will provide the opportunity for adaptive and nonadaptive cyclists to ride together and experience the support and camaraderie WTS is known for.
“We were pleased to bring our employees and financial professionals together to support our veterans,” said Lon Dolber, chairman of the Osaic Foundation and vice chairman of Osaic. “This type of experiential event brings able-bodied and adaptive athletes together to build relationships that last long after the ride ends.”