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World T.E.A.M. Sports: Changing Lives through Sports
This guest blog was written by World T.E.A.M. Sports Imagine a rider with one leg pushing off for a 100 mile ride across the rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado. With him is a blind veteran who won’t see the beauty of the mountains, but who can experience the grandeur of the terrain through the words of his companions. Riding alongside is a Vietnam veteran who never received the welcome he deserved when he returned following his service to his nation; an active Chief Petty Officer with the Coast Guard who lost her paraplegic sister to complications at an early age; and an Air Force Senior Master Sergeant who nearly lost his life to cancer and is riding his lifetime dream, a cross-country journey. This is the Sea to Shining Sea bicycle ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports, a participant in the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s annual W100K ride. In 2010 and again in 2012, World T.E.A.M. Sports directed and managed the Sea to Shining Sea cross-country bicycle ride. Riding from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, Virginia, the 2012 ride includes disabled veterans from past wars and conflicts as recent as the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars to as distant as the Vietnam War. With participants from all branches of the military, the ride brings national attention for these wounded warriors, many of whom sacrificed much in their defense of their country. Riding through large cities, small communities, mountains, plains, deserts and woodlands, these veterans see America at ten miles an hour. For more than 20 years, World T.E.A.M. Sports has used athletics to challenge disabled men, women and children to accomplish goals they never thought possible. From mountain climbing to bicycling to white water rafting and many other outdoor sporting activities, the organization includes both disabled and able-bodied participants in its many events. Created as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to support participants to overcome obstacles and challenges together, World T.E.A.M. Sports has long included wounded warriors. The organization’s 1995 World Ride included disabled veterans and civilian riders who spent nine months riding through 16 nations around the globe. In 1999, the Vietnam Challenge paired 70 disabled riders from the United States and the former North Vietnam on a successful 1,250-mile ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on America in Washington and New York, World T.E.A.M. Sports redirected its Face of America cross-country bicycle ride as a Ground Zero to Pentagon “moving memorial” to those who lost their lives in the Global War on Terror. The 2002 ride attracted more than 1,400 participants who rode the 277 miles in three days. The following year, over 500 riders from ten nations came together to remember and honor the lives lost in conflict.
The Face of America ride continues to this day, as a two day ride from the Pentagon at Washington, D.C. to the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The annual ride includes military veterans, wounded warriors, active duty military and civilian riders. In 2012, nearly 500 participants rode together.
Other inclusive events directed by World T.E.A.M. Sports include the annual Adventure TEAM Challenge in Colorado, bringing together five-person teams of competitors, of which two in every team must be disabled; the 2009 Coastal Team Challenge in the Pacific Northwest, which brought together wounded warriors from the United States and Canada; and the Soldiers to the Summit expeditions. In October 2010, disabled veterans climbed 20,075-foot Lobuche East, an ice and snow-covered peak near Mount Everest in Nepal. The success of this expedition led to a February 2012 winter sports expedition to Utah’s Snowbird Resort, where disabled veterans learned skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities. This post is part of a series to help highlight the good work of military support organizations and fulfill the mission of the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative to honor the sacrifices and service our U.S. servicemen and women and their families make for our freedom. The Institute helps military support organizations achieve their missions more effectively by raising awareness and spotlighting best practices.