Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is participating in the 2012 Race Across America (RAAM) event beginning June 16. RAAM, which began in 1982 as the Great American Bike Race, is among the best known and longest annual endurance events in the world. The route varies each year with this year's event starting in Oceanside, California and ending in Annapolis, Maryland.
RAAM is often compared to the Tour de France, yet the races differ greatly. RAAM is a 3,000 mile bike ride, through 14 states, climbing over 100,000 feet, in six to nine days, averaging 350-500 miles ridden a day by cyclists riding 24 hours a day in a relay format. In contrast, the Tour de France is approximately 2,300 miles long and is run over the course of about three weeks because it is divided into shorter daily stages.
What makes participation in RAAM by a WWP cycling team so unique? This event is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment and challenge for world-class athletes. Our WWP cycling team consists of eight Wounded Warriors who have overcome extreme physical and mental wounds. Now, they have chosen to participate in this transcontinental bicycle race to show the world that you can't let wounds or injuries of any kind hold you back.
As Rider Captain for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) 2012 Race Across America (RAAM) team, Mike is known for getting incredible results. He currently serves as Liaison Officer for the U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Maryland. And his military experience is significant – including Tank Platoon Leader, Infantry Platoon Leader, and six years in the 101st Airborne Division Commanding two separate units.
Sergeant Brett Miller raises his hand and says, “Sign me up. I expect to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.” It’s that kind of “We can do it” attitude that Brett brings to the Wounded Warrior Project Race Across America team. And it’s an attitude well-earned during his service in Iraq from 2004 to 2005.
When Freddie de Los Santos thinks about Race Across America (RAAM), his mind and spirit are strengthened by a quote that inspires him from none other than Lance Armstrong: "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
As a result of Jeff’s experiences, he now endures battles with traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and paralysis. He says cycling is one of the few things that help him with his TBI and PTSD. Jeff is a 16-year Army veteran who was injured nine different times and now endures battles with traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and paralysis.
John is an experienced racer and brings a wealth of knowledge and strategy to the Wounded Warrior Project 2012 Race Across America team. Although he received a heart transplant in 2005, he still gives cycling everything he’s got. John hopes to take his message of competition and survival to as many military members and civilians as he can.
He served nine years in the Marines and was deployed to Iraq in January 2004. Four months later, an improvised explosive device (IED) changed his life forever. He was resuscitated three times… in a coma for 31 days… bedridden in a hospital for nearly four months, and confined to a wheelchair for almost two years. Mason endured 34 surgeries on every major part of his body except his right arm.
Nieves certainly has worked hard to overcome his own challenges. He served four years in the Marine Corps and then joined the Army in 1997 – which included two tours in Iraq from 2003 through 2005. During the second tour, Nieves was thrown from a vehicle during a truck accident. His arm was severed at the elbow, and he suffered numerous broken bones and a severe head injury.
Tim’s first competitive ride on a hand cycle was the Three Notch Century Ride in New Hampshire. It’s 105 miles in the White Mountains, and he hasn’t stopped cycling since. He’s been hand cycling for only two years; yet, he’s still aiming at national and international competition. It’s that incredible drive to succeed that makes Tim one of the toughest guys you’ll ever meet.