ROCKVILLE, Md. — May 22, 2012 — Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), one of the nation’s largest sport organizations for people with disabilities, announced its Team Warfighter Sports’ climb of Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America and one of the coldest in the world. Guided by Mountain Trip, the climb is set to begin on June 10, shortly after Memorial Day, to honor the sacrifices of America’s heroes, and end around Independence Day, a day that celebrates the freedoms won by military service members.
The team includes five climbers, with only four “good legs” between them, from three wars and two generations: retired Army Sgt. Neil Duncan, 29, a double-leg amputee injured in Afghanistan; Marine Capt. David Borden, 31, who, after losing his leg above the knee to a suicide bomb in Iraq in 2008, returned to combat in Afghanistan in 2011; retired Army Cpl. Steve Martin, 42, a double-leg amputee injured in Afghanistan; retired Army Capt. Jesse Acosta, 34, who suffered permanent damage to hip, leg and back in Iraq; and retired Army Sgt. Kirk Bauer, JD, 64, an above-knee amputee injured in Vietnam and the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for the past 29 years.
“After losing my leg in 2008, I never imagined I would be able return to active duty in the military. Sports have played a very important role in my recovery and I appreciate what Disabled Sports USA has done to help me rebuild my life. The opportunity to climb the highest mountain in North America is a tremendous challenge that will allow me to prove to myself and anyone else with a disability that DSUSA’s motto is true: ‘If I can do this, I can do anything!’” Borden said.
The challenging climb symbolizes the difficulties wounded warriors, their families, and others with disabilities face going through hospitalization and rehabilitation. “After serving thousands of severely injured service members from Iraq and Afghanistan through rehabilitation sports programs for the past nine years, our disabled veterans are now yearning for more opportunities to test their skills to the extreme, as they did in the military,” Bauer said. “They can now literally climb some of the tallest mountains in the world to challenge themselves and inspire others to become active and reach their goals and dreams.” In 2010, Bauer led a successful all-amputee wounded warrior team, which included Duncan, up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The Denali climb benefits Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA, an organization that has served severely wounded warriors since 1967. Warfighter Sports offers free sports rehabilitation for severely wounded warriors in military hospitals and communities across the U.S. Over 5,600 wounded warriors and families have been served since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Warfighter Sports rebuilds lives through sports by improving self-confidence, promoting independence and uniting families through shared healthy activities.
“Chartis is proud to make a difference in the lives of our nation’s wounded warriors through our support of Disabled Sports USA’s Warfighter Sports. This program enables our wounded warriors to live out their love of sport and competition and realize their hopes and dreams in life,” said John Doyle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Commercial Insurance for Chartis.
Key sponsors of the climb also include: Tee it up for the Troops, Team Semper Fi, American Airlines, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and Leonidas International, a foundation started by climber Acosta.
Follow Team Warfighter Sports’ progress, view photos and support the team at http://www.crowdrise.com/wsdenalichallenge/fundraiser/disabledsportsusa4.