Registration for World T.E.A.M. Sports’ 2015 Face of America Bicycle Ride Opens for Disabled and Able-bodied Athletes

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Registration for national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ popular Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride from the Pentagon in Washington to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania opened for teams and disabled and able-bodied individuals participating in the inclusive April 24-26, 2015 event.

Veterans ride north from Washington D.C. at the 2014 Face of America.

Veterans Chris Levi (left) and Lew Meyer ride at the 2014 Face of America ride. Photograph by Van Brinson.

My favorite experience was just being around other injured veterans and getting the chance to experience something great without getting babied for being hurt.

National non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports’ annual Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride from the Pentagon in Washington to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania opened registration this week for teams and individuals participating in the inclusive April 24-26, 2015 event.

Able-bodied civilians, active duty and retired military cyclists ride with disabled veterans from all service branches, beginning at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and concluding at the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Face of America is fully-supported for participants of all abilities, leisurely traveling 110 miles in two days, with an overnight stay in Frederick, Maryland. Experienced riders can alternately select one or both 100 kilometer loop rides from Gettysburg on Saturday and Sunday. All participants receive a commemorative jersey at on-site registration, along with a gala dinner and a celebratory outdoor lunch in Gettysburg at the Sunday afternoon conclusion.

For participating disabled veterans of the annual Face of America ride from national non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, riding in the event provides a sense of accomplishment. “I don't think I stopped smiling whenever I was on the trike recumbent. It was my first taste of the freedom of riding for a while,” said one veteran.

“My favorite experience was just being around other injured veterans and getting the chance to experience something great without getting babied for being hurt,” reported an injured veteran. “It was nice to be able to be straight about everything and just talk. The ride itself was great. It really shows you what you are capable of.”

Participating able-bodied riders are inspired by riding alongside injured veterans, many of whom ride hand-powered cycles. One rider was impressed by “the cheering of a guy on a hand bike as he careened down a big hill, and then the louder, more accomplished cheering when he was able to reach the top of the next hill without anybody's help.” Another was amazed by “being passed on a hill by a guy with two prosthetic legs.”

Face of America is the non-profit’s most popular event, attracting 600 riders, of which more than 130 are military veterans with disabilities ranging from loss of limb to Post Traumatic Stress to blindness. The ride began in 2000 as a cross-country relay with two teams of disabled riders riding from each coast that met under the St. Louis arch. In 2002 and 2003, the ride honored the victims of the 9/11 attacks on America, running from Ground Zero in New York to the Pentagon. In April 2006, the Face of America ride was re-envisioned as an inclusive event to honor those who were injured or disabled while serving in the military. Over the next eight years, a greater number of disabled Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans participated, as have additional active duty military and civilian riders.

Each participating civilian, retired and active duty military rider raises funds from family, friends, co-workers and colleagues to support the participation of the injured veterans, who pay no registration, transportation or lodging fees, as well as cover event costs. Any remaining funds raised through the event are applied to other World T.E.A.M. Sports events. These include Colorado’s Adventure Team Challenge, an outdoor team competition with disabled and able-bodied competitors, and larger events, such as the CanAm Veterans’ Challenge, a Washington to Ottawa bicycle ride next scheduled in June 2016.

Registration for participating riders and teams for the Face of America is currently underway online. There is a maximum limit of 600 participants, including veterans with disabilities.

World T.E.A.M. Sports is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in North Carolina and headquartered in Holbrook, New York. Celebrating 20 years in 2013, World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, white water rafting, biking, and more. Four things always happen at our events: (1) Disabled participants build self-confidence and physical fitness; (2) The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up physical activities; (3) The disabled become a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see that disabled individuals can meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination; and (4) The disabled and able-bodied participants learn to work as a team to overcome those challenges. World T.E.A.M. Sports changes lives through sports.

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Richard Rhinehart
World T.E.A.M. Sports
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