Six teams of veterans – including three members of Paralyzed Veterans of America – arrived on jet skis in New York City on Sept. 11, concluding a 1,600-mile trek from Key West, FL, as part of the Never Quit Challenge – an effort to raise money and awareness for veterans and their families.
One of those teams – Team Xtreme Abilities – included three Army veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America members: team lead Jeff Glasser, owner of XtremeAbilities.com, Roberto Cruz, and Anthony Radetic.
Departing from Key West, FL, on Sept. 6, 2013, Team Xtreme Abilities took turns operating a Kawasaki Ultra LX jet ski roughly 266 miles per day and arrived in Battery Park in New York City on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“Our team alone had two paraplegics and one partial paralysis, and we’re just trying to get the word out that our injuries won’t hold us back and that we can keep up with the best and adapt and overcome,” Glasser said. “We are just raising awareness and showing our patriotism.”
Each of the six teams took turns during the trip to carry the flag of Navy SEAL Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Patrick D. Feeks, who, along with seven other Americans, was killed when his helicopter crashed while fighting insurgents in southern Afghanistan in August 2012.
The 1,600-mile trek included fundraising events in Key West, Virginia Beach, Atlantic City and New York City to benefit three charities: the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, a group that provides support to severely wounded veterans; the Boot Campaign, a grassroots initiative that promotes awareness and raises funds for military programs; and the Station Foundation, an organization that provides resources to members of the special operations community and their families.
The money raised at the four fundraising events will be distributed evenly through each of the three charities.
While the trip included a couple patches of rough water that slowed the riders down, both able-bodied and disabled riders were generally able to keep a steady pace of around 35 miles per hour, Glasser said.
“Being paralyzed, it’s difficult to keep your balance because you’re going over the waves and getting tossed around,” Glasser said. “But for us, we adapt and overcome. We just used all of the strength we had in our upper body to keep ourselves moving and keep pace with the able-bodied riders.”
Find more information about the Never Quit Challenge at this link.
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Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.