March 20, 2014
USA Triathlon Press Release – Paratriathlon effort to include Team Z
Hey folks. This has been in the works for some time. And the details are not hammered out, and we do not have any participants yet. However – we are soo looking forward to this. The Given Limb foundation provided a $65,000 grant to USA Paratriathlon to engage wounded warriors at Walter Reed, and to get them involved in our sport.
You can read more in the press release below, but I wanted to share that the reason I am most proud that our selection to play a part is project is largely due to the community we have built. Obviously that community has been built on YOUR backs, and that is why I think we should all be proud of this.
Walter Reed Hospital has many specialists – people with skills that we (as coaches or teammates) would never be expected to have in our tool box. These warriors work with the best surgeons and doctors, the best in the field of prosthesis, and experts in teaching once able bodied athletes to continue to compete in and on “new terrain”. Having visited their facilities a few times all I can say is that everyone is awe inspiring. From the soldiers, sailors, and airmen…all the way up through the chain of PT and rehab specialists (and their facilities – super awesome) and doctors. Very very inspirational.
Walter Reed and USA Triathlon did not select us for our expertise in this manner. We were selected because, while of course we can teach the new members triathlon race strategy and race related skills, more importantly we will be able to provide the social environment outside of the hospital in which the warriors can thrive and continue their rehabilitation.
The key player on our side (IMO) is Patti Jackson. Patti is a Team Z Veteran, Team Z Mentor and retired USAF officer. Patti knows the warriors, she knows Walter Reed, she knows Team Z, and she knows the sport of triathlon. So Patti will be serving as our “Team Mom” and working with the soldiers on site 1-2 times per week helping to keep them motivated, involved in our TEAM Z activities – and generally providing or coordinating any level of support needed outside of the Walter Reed Facility.
Patti took me to Walter Reed several years ago with a goal of the two of us offering our support and recruiting folks to consider triathlon as a new sport. We met a ton of great people, both wounded warriors and staff alike. But we did not have much success in recruiting a participant. However – we did make a new friend that day all of those years ago….including Deuce (one of the therapy dogs). He was a Sergeant then.
Well, upon our return – years later and after our selection – Patti and I were lamenting how things had seem to come full circle. So it really seemed like Karma and like the circle was 100% completed when…. as we arrived we are greeted at the door to Walter Reed by our old friend Deuce. Except now he has been promoted to Chief Master Sergeant. So with the recent promotion – he is the honest TOP DOG.
Here is a picture of Deuce, Patti and I. I don’t know why I had to share – just thought Deuce kicked ass.
Anyway – things should kickoff in the next month or two – and we can’t promise anything – but we are hoping this program will be a huge success. So thanks to all of you for helping us build an organization that is not only respected within our sport on a regional level…but recognized on the national level by our governing body.
Team Z Rocks.