A team of athletes, many service men and women injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, reached the Atlantic Ocean Saturday at the conclusion of their cross-country trek.
The core team of 17 State Farm Sea to Shining Sea bicycle riders reached their destination after inspiring thousands all along the route which took them over three mountain ranges, across a desert, and through America’s heartland and historic birthplace.
In addition to the riders’ personal achievements, the signatures of supporters who turned out to cheer them along the way generated a $100,000 donation from sponsor State Farm to Habitat for Humanity, which will fund accessibility features in homes for veterans.
The team departed from the Golden Gate Bridge on May 22 for the inaugural bike trek across America organized by World T.E.A.M. Sports. The goal of Sea to Shining Sea was to honor the courage of the service men and women.
Air Force Sergeant and rider Marc Esposito, who was discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center just one year ago after barely surviving an IED attack, explains, “We started out a group of people hoping to ride across the country. We became a team that realized this ride was much bigger than any of us. We rode to inspire others to get off the couch, get back to therapy and live a life that they love.”
The cyclists tested their physical limits daily. Several riders had specially-designed bikes that made it possible for them to participate, some made the trek with prosthetic limbs and others completed the ride while managing the effects of post traumatic stress and severe brain injuries.
They averaged nearly 70 miles per day in weather that ranged from snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the heat that has plagued the Midwest and East for the past few weeks. Riders conquered 63 cities from San Francisco to Virginia Beach, including Sacramento, Calif.; Denver; Lincoln, Neb.; Bloomington, Ill.; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and Washington, D.C.
Sponsor State Farm, a leading insurance company, activated its agents and associates all along the route to provide local information, helped with logistics and route planning, and rallied folks to turn out to celebrate the riders along the way.
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals of all abilities through sports.