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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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
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
Steven Wrublekski - Chef
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
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
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
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
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.