Friday, July 31, 2009

Participant Bios

Ryan Crawford

Hello; my name is Cpl Ryan Crawford born in Lethbridge, Alberta and raised in Kelowna, B.C. Joined the Forces in 2002 and was posted with the 3rd PPCLI in Edmonton, Alberta.

I went over seas in august 05 and was injured by an IED in Dec 05. My leg and foot where severely shattered. I now am currently working with Army News in Edmonton.

Paul Franklin

My name is Paul Franklin and I am a Master Corporal (to the Americans it’s like your first level Sgt) and I work in casualty support at Land Forces Western Area HQ. 

I lost both legs in a suicide bombing in January 2006. The left leg was taken immediately the right was taken after 24 surgeries I had the right removed as it was my belief that it was killing me. 

While in the hospital I noticed that the military was getting fairly excellent care where as the civilians were getting just average care. So it was with that belief that I started my own charity called the Franklin Foundation with the basic premise that I wanted to improve the care and life of all amputees be they military or civilian. In Canada, we don't have military hospitals - we use the civilian system and hence the reason the need for change. The concept of Freedom through Sports is how we do this and these kinds of activities climbing kayaking; bike trips are just the way to showcase what amps of all disabilities can do.

Rick Rickard

My legal name is Brett Rickard, but most people call me Rick from my last name. I was born in Hartland, New Brunswick. It is a small town of approximately 1,000 people not far from Maine. 

I joined the Canadian Forces as an Armoured Corp Gunner in May 1985. I was involved in an accident causing my left leg to be amputated above the knee when it was caught up in a winch cable on a 5 tonne diesel pod refuel truck in Aug 1988. I was able to maintain my physical fitness level enough to allow me to change trades and become a Construction Engineer Procedures Tech in the Military in 1993. 

I was rebadged to a Resources Management Clerk in Jan 1998 and I am currently posted to CFB North Bay, Ontario. This August will be 21 years I have served in the Canadian Forces as an amputee making me the longest serving amputee in the Canadian Forces. I am set to retire in 2010 having served 25 years in the Canadian Forces.

Jeff Henson

My name is Jeff Henson. During my career in the military I worked in munitions an demolitions. While in the military, I started to lose my sight and it got worse with time. I have no vision in my right eye and about 15% in my left eye. 

I am an advocate for visually impaired and blind veterans. I am a state officer for the B V A for the State of Alabama. I bike, hand cycle, snowboard, ski, and do hand cycle marathons as part of the freedom team. Eventually, probably in the next 3-5 years I may be totally blind. 

I refuse to let my vision problems hinder me. I have a good support team in my family, church, and friends. I intend to do as much as I can as often as I can.

Mark Fuchko

Hi, my name is Mark Fuchko (yes that is my last name) and I'm from Calgary, Alberta. I joined Canada's Army Reserve in 2002 and did two tours to Afghanistan, one in May, 2006 and the other in 2008. 

On March 28th, 2008 while wrapping up an operation, the vehicle I was driving struck an IED. The force of the explosion left me with two shattered legs and a broken pelvis. After arriving in Landshtul my legs were amputated below the knee. 

I've been fairly active with the Soldier On program, and it has been a huge part of my recovery, both mentally a physically. I've also been active in supporting the Military Family Fund, Military Family Resource Center, and the Kipnes Veterans Centre. I currently work for The Military Museums in Calgary as part of my return to work program. 

Look forward to seeing new and familiar faces on this trip, see you all Saturday. Cheers.

Josh Sharpe

My name is Josh Sharpe, I served in the US Navy from 1992 - 1994 on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, coincidentally I was stationed at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA, so I am excited to be paddling in the same waters I used to sail in while in the Navy. 

I was paralyzed in a motor vehicle accident in 1994 - 4 months after I got out of the Navy while I was attending college. Since then I have been very active in wheelchair sports, my favourite sports are cycling (road and off-road) and skiing (alpine). I am hoping to hone my kayak paddling "skills" next week and begin taking advantage of kayaking in the beautiful waters of the Florida Gulf Coast where I live. 

I have been participating in World T.E.A.M. Sports events since 2003 when I did the post 9/11 bike ride (Face of America) from New York City to Washington, DC. Since then I have participated in Face of America 2007, 2008 and 2009 in addition to the maiden Vancouver Island kayak trip in 2008 and this year’s Adventure TEAM Challenge in Colorado. 

I work as a supervisor at the Social Security Administration in Pensacola, FL and also as a sales representative for Bike-On, the largest handcycle dealer in the world. I am really looking forward to this awesome opportunity of taking part in this epic kayak trip from Anacortes to Vancouver!

Gregory D. Gadson

Lieutenant Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, a native of Chesapeake, Virginia was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA). On 7 May 2007 LTC Gadson was severely wounded by an IED while serving as Battalion Commander in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; as a result of his wounds both legs were amputated above the knee. LTC Gadson is married to the former Kimberly Thomas of Lee’s Summit, Missouri and they have two children, Gabriella and Jaelen.

Lieutenant Colonel awards include the Bronze Star Medal (3 OLC), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (4 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (3 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (3 OLC), National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (2 OLC), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Saudi Arabian Liberation Medal, Kuwaiti Liberation Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He is also authorized to wear the Combat Action Badge and the Master Parachutist Badge.

Seth Arseneau

My name is Seth Arseneau. I am 30 years of age and live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was on active duty in the United States Army from 1998-2001. Shortly after finishing my enlistment, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a spinal cord injury at the L1 vertebrae. 

Since then, I have been heavily involved in the hand cycling industry. I have traveled all over the U.S. and Europe for various events and competitions. In addition to riding and racing, I am working on starting a small manufacturing/fabrication business through which I can build off-road hand cycles.

Karen McCoy

My name is Karen McCoy, I am in my 29th year in the reg service. I joined as an Airframe Technician but now I am an Aviation Technician. I was born into the military life and have spent my entire life on military bases. I count that as a blessing : ).

I am presently stationed at 403 Sqn CFB Gagetown, NB Canada. I am currently the Unit Flight Safety NCM. (the CSI of Flight Safety).

When I was told that I had Osteo Sarcoma of the right Tibia in 2003 I was devastated. I not only thought that I would not survive the same cancer Terry Fox had but if I did survive, I would not be able to serve my county any longer. Man, have those thoughts ever changed. Here I am 6 years later, a survivor and still serving my county. My life has taken on new meaning and now I enjoy every day as if it were my last. I am so excited to spend a week with you all, hearing all your stories..the brave and the strong.
I have never spent time in Afghanistan (my twin sister Kathy did that for us both) but I have done tours in: Sinai, Egypt, Honduras, Central America; and Bosnia.

I am on the Women's National Sitting Volleyball Team which will be heading to the 2012 Paralympics in London. I have fortunate enough to compete against the American Team that were silver medalist in the Beijing Games. I went to San Antonia Texas last month to compete in a Mini Tri with the great folks at the Brooke Army Medical Clinic Centre. Not only was that friendly competition exhilarating but I was honoured to meet these fine men and women.

James Dolber – Support

Hello my name is James Dolber, I am 19 years old and I currently reside in East Moriches, New York. I spent my first year of college at Hofstra University, where I studied Music. My main instruments are the saxophone and guitar. I have been playing the baritone and alto sax for about nine years and the guitar for about six.

When I’m not playing an instrument, I spend most of my time kayaking, kayak fishing, surfing, and charter fishing. I also do a decent amount of mountain climbing. I have climbed in total three peaks, all of which I have summited. When I was nine, I climbed Mount Marcy in Upstate New York, at age 11 I tackled Mount St. Helens in Washington State, and finally my most recent climb, Mount Baker. 

For the Mount Baker climb I helped raise over $7,000 for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, an organization that builds state of the art hospitals for injured soldiers returning from the war. I work in the American Portfolios Financial Services IT department where I act as technical support to the Staff and Reps.
I can’t wait to reunite with the guys from the Vancouver Island Inclusive Kayak trip which I participated in last year. I am excited to meet the new faces joining us on this awesome adventure. Our arms are going to be ripped after this one!

Lon Dolber – Event Sponsor

Lon is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of American Portfolios which is a full service financial services firm with almost $9 billion in client assets serviced by 525 Financial Service Professionals located in 225 offices throughout the United States. In addition Lon has served on the FINRA District 10 Committee, the FINRA Consultative Committee and currently serves on the FINRA Technology committee.

Interests include hiking, mountaineering, sailing and music. Climbs in the Pacific Northwest include Mount Rainier, Mount Baker and Mount Olympus. Lon has also participated in an expedition to Denali in Alaska and winter ascents of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
Lon currently serves on the World T.E.A.M. Sports Board of Directors and has participated over the last three years in numerous World T.E.A.M. Sports events. In 2007 he was a team member on the Kilimanjaro climb as well as the Face of America Bike Ride, the 2008 Real Deal Adventure race in Colorado and the Marine Marathon. In 2008 and 2009, American Portfolios sent a team of employees and representatives to participate in the Face of America Bike Ride and also sponsored a team for the 2008 Real Deal Adventure Race, as well as funding and participating in the Vancouver Island Inclusive Kayak Challenge, which was the Beta trip for the 2009 Coastal Team Challenge.

Steven Wrublekski - Chef

My name is Steven Wrubleski. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, moved to Lopez Island, WA when I was 22, and that means I have lived here about 35 years. I must be having a good time because time flew by. Professionally I design and produce stained glass windows. 

As an artist, I am inspired by the natural world, photography plays a large part in my design process. I am also a builder, small scale farmer, and was a parent of five children who are now successful young adults. I love expeditions into the wild, and have served as a chef on a number of these trips.

Rich Antunovich - Support

Rich Antunovich is a Special Education teacher with over 28 years of experience.
During the Vietnam era, Rich served in the US Army and was stationed at Fort Riley Kansas as an MP from 1970 – 1973. After his military service he completed his teaching degree and returned to Long Island. His passion has always been teaching and coaching. He started the tennis program at Rocky Point High School about 15 years ago and has coached his children in softball, tennis and baseball for over 10 years. 

For the past 3 years, Rich has participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports' Face of America Bike Ride, and was a member last year of the Vancouver Kayaking Challenge beta team. Rich lives in East Moriches, NY with his wife and three children. When not working, he is usually fly fishing at the ocean or on the bay and is looking forward to retiring in a few years.

Bob Vogel – Photo Journalist

My name is Bob Vogel, I'm 49 years old and live in Loomis, California. I am a former professional Freestyle Skier and movie stuntman. In skiing, my specialties were aerial acrobatics and mogul skiing. In 1985, while preparing for a ski show I had a bad crash and broke my back. The crash resulted in T10 complete paralysis-- total paralysis below the waist. 

After my injury, I went to college and got a BA in communication. In the 24 years since my injury my passion for sports and adventure has remained strong. The many sporting activities I participate in include: hang gliding, advanced rated hang glider pilot, I have competed in hang gliding aerobatics both nationally and internationally; scuba diving, rescue diver; cycling, both road and mountain biking riding adaptive "handcycles"; sea kayaking; snow skiing (mono-skiing), I'm a PSIA Level 1 adaptive ski instructor; cross country snow skiing, and I'm an avid sailor. 

In my professional life I'm a freelance journalist, photojournalist, and do video production; professions that enable me to participate in and share amazing adventures. Last, but most important, I'm a single dad with an 8 1/2-year-old daughter named Sarah Ann.

Edwin V. Merta – Sail Boat Captain

My name is Edwin V. Merta, but I mostly go by Ed or Chief, and was born in Dallas, Texas. I started my traveling 21 days later. As a boy I lived in Montreal, for three years, before moving to California. 

In 1953 while in college, I started my Military career with the US Navy Reserve, going to the regular US Air Force in 1955, and transitioned in 1965 to the US Coast Guard, from which I retired in 1980 after 27 years service, and have now been retired for 29 years. 

Since 2002, I have been very active with the USCG Auxiliary. I guess I am one of the lucky ones in that I made it through my career days without any major injuries, but this past year 2008, I woke in the hospital, after passing out, not being able to use my right arm. NO Stroke or Heart Attack.... It has now been nearly 9 months and though I have recovered a good portion of movement, the doctors say I will never get full use of it. 

Over the years, I have worked with many of the services, starting with Canadians in 1959, Newfoundland, on the Pinetree Line, where I learned that Canadians really knew how to party. While I will not be paddling with you guys, I will be close by, if you need something. I think this is going to be great FUN. Looking forward to meeting you ALL....

Randall Kall – Sailboat First Mate

I was born May 26, 1947 in Dubuque, Iowa and grew up on various horse ranches my family owned in Southern California. 

After serving in the U.S. Army medical corps during the Vietnam war (Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio), extensive world travel, college, and my own business, I retired at age 50 to spend the next decade building and enjoying my own horse ranch in Portugal. I landed in the Pacific Northwest late in 2008, joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (Flotilla 19's Finest!) and am enjoying the exceptional sailing in this area. I enjoy almost all sports (golf being a notable exception,,,) and looking forward to seeing how "Kayakers do it "! 

Thanks for letting me be a part of your T.E.A.M.

Kabao and Jeff Messner – World T.E.A.M. Sports Staff

We are delighted to a part of World T.E.A.M. Sports and with our Coastal Challenge TEAMmates. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of such an inspiring group of people that has given so much for their country. Our goal is help make certain everyone has a safe and fun week. We are looking forward to making new lifetime friends.

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Coastal TEAM Challenge – Anacortes to Vancouver, August 1–9, 2009

About World T.E.A.M. Sports and the Coastal Team Challenge

World T.E.A.M Sports (The Exceptional Athlete Matters) uses the universal power of sports to create soul-stirring experiences by teaming disabled athletes with able-bodied athletes, forming a true TEAM. Our Principal aspirations and objectives are to increase and promote inclusive sports opportunities for all people, especially reaching out to disabled people. To organize and host innovative and challenging sporting events that encourage, all individuals, especially those with disabilities, to participate in lifetime sports. Promote diversity and increase awareness, acceptance and integration of those with disabilities.

The idea for the “Coastal Team Challenge” is a high profile, group expedition, consisting of a mix of Canadian and American disabled troops, active or otherwise. Launching at Washington Park in Anacortes, the team will kayak north through Puget Sound, entering the Strait of Georgia in British Columbian waters and arriving, finally, in downtown Vancouver. The event should generate international camaraderie among the athletes, hopefully act as a kind of lead in to the Winter Olympics held in Vancouver a few months later, and provide a challenging personal experience for each participant.

Kayaking north from Anacortes, the seascape will evolve from urban waterfront to outlying urban, passing through increasingly isolated areas that reflect a signature northwest marine environment—forested and rocky seashores, green and white ferries shuttling cars and passengers between islands, seals, bald eagles, whales perhaps—until approaching the BC border and ultimately the striking skyline of Vancouver with white capped mountains towering behind. The journey is roughly 82 nautical miles. The trip is scheduled for Saturday August 1st to Sunday August 9th, 2009.

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