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Challenged Sailors Chosen For Transpac

March 8, 2005 (San Diego, California) -- It all began in 1991 when the founders of San Diego-based Challenged America first stated that one day they (sailors with disabilities) would race across the Pacific Ocean in the Transpacific Yacht Race. After two failed attempts) due to funding shortfalls) to enter the race in 1993 and 1995, this once boastful statement became a reality in 2003 when two of the original Challenged America founders (Bob Hettiger, paraplegic, and Urban Miyares, total blind; both disabled veterans) realized their dream when with three other sailors with disabilities and one able-bodied crew member (2003 Team Challenged America) they raced 2,225 nautical miles from Los Angeles, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, in the 2003 Transpac Yacht Race, finishing in a respectable 13-plus days.

2005 Challenged America Transpac Team (left to right):
Kevin Wixom (standing), Ryan Baker (wheelchair), Josh Ross (standing behind Ryan Baker), Linda Woodbury, total blind, "B" Team member (standing), Jeff Reinhold (wheelchair), Urban Miyares (kneeling with his Seeing Eye dog guide alongside), and Jim Halverson (standing).
Photo by Janet Daniels, Challenged America volunteer

Why the Transpac? The Transpacific Yacht Race is that one race every serious offshore racing sailor, and many others, want to do at least once, yet few actually do. And for serious and competitive sailors with disabilities, it's the Mount Everest that needs to be climbed. This demanding race contains all the elements of being challenged by the sea, and who can best meet such challenges. Transpac tests physical ability, stamina, sailing skills and seamanship. Definitely not a race for everyone, and once believed a race much too dangerous and physically demanding for a crew of sailors having significant disabilities to safely accomplish independently...until Team Challenged America achieved the feat in 2003. The Transpac is a 24 hour per day, non-stop race requiring self-sufficiency, as you can be more than 1,000 miles from the nearest emergency medical assistance or other aid. Traditionally having strong 25-35 knot tradewinds and 10 to 14 foot cresting seas, the Transpac is one of the longest, non-stop ocean races between ports in the world, other than an around-the-world race.

The top racing sailors in the world, racing on the largest and fastest of ocean-racing yachts are attracted to the Transpac. And this, the 2005 Transpac, starting on July 11, 2005, is the 100th anniversary of this ocean-racing legend. International media attention and public interest has already begun for this monumental ocean racing classic. "Making Waves Productions" will be filming Team Challenged America for an independent film documentary on their personal challenges to accomplish such a daunting ocean race, given their extreme physical and medical limitations, along with in-depth stories of sponsors and volunteers who have supported these amazing athletes.

The Challenged America 2005 Transpac Team has been selected.
>From 44 original candidates with disabilities, living throughout the
United States and Canada, Mexico, Europe and South Africa, the six Challenged America "A" Team members are:

* Ryan Baker - paraplegic (San Diego, CA);
* Jim Halverson - leg amputee and cancer survivor (San Juan Capistrano, California);
* Urban Miyares - total blind, hearing impaired, organ transplant recipient, diabetes (San Diego, California);
* Jeff Reinhold - quadriplegic (Seattle, Washington):
* Joshua Ross, skipper (San Diego, California); and,
* Kevin Wixom - leg amputee (San Diego, California).

The Challenged America Transpac "B" Team consists of the Transpac veterans from the 2003 Team, and others with disabilities.

Follow the route and daily reports of the Challenged America Transpac Team on www.YachtRacing.com, beginning on July 11, 2005, and look for the ESPN Transpac Special on television in the summer or fall, with Team Challenged America sure to be spotlighted.

Challenged America was founded in the late 1970's by disabled veterans desiring to further their own rehabilitation. Today Challenged America is a charitable program of the Disabled Businesspersons Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Providing free learn-to-sail and advanced sailing programs for kids, adults and disabled veterans with disabilities, funding for this year-round rehabilitation program comes mainly from vessel donations and contributions by business and the general public. The Challenged America Transpac racing boat, B'Quest (a Tripp 40 sailboat) was donated to Challenged America by Brian and Suzanne Hull of Coronado, California. Hundreds of sailors with disabilities and their loved ones, from around the world, participate in Challenged America programs each year.

For additional information on CHALLENGED AMERICA and to support their 2005 Transpac campaign, contact Urban Miyares at CHALLENGED AMERICA, 2240 Shelter Island Drive, Suite 110, San Diego, California, 92106, telephone (619) 523-9318, email: Port@ChallenghedAmerica.org, or visit www.ChallengedAmerica.org.

About Challenged America:

In the late 1970's two disable veterans in wheelchairs, having a love for the sea and wanting to further their own rehabilitation, were unable to find a sailing programs able to meet their unique needs, challenges and goals. They then purchased a sailboat (a Cal 20) and invited others to sail with them, developing adaptations to their sailboat as they honed skills and sailing abilities. By the late 1980's the two disabled veterans were joined by others )disabled veterans and non-veterans, as well as the able-bodied) as crew to regularly race in coastal and offshore events. Their boat was now a larger,34 foot racer -- a Beneteau First Class 10.

The 1990 San Diego to Ensenada International Yacht Race found this crew of sailors with and without disabilities competing. "Challenged America" was formally launched with this race.

In 1992 the documentary video "Local Heroes: Challenged America" highlighted the Challenged America program as sailors with disabilities raced in an America's Cup sailboat (America II) alongside other America's Cup crew. The video was winner of the national Arts & Entertainment (A&E) CityVideos Award, and was nominated for an Emmy.

Challenged America soon became a rehabilitation program under the Disabled Businesspersons Association, a charitable 501(c)(3) volunteer-based organization, based at San Diego State University - Interwork Institute.

The Disabled Businesspersons Association is spotlighted in the "Guide To Effective Compassion" (a publication of The Acton Institute, Grand Rapids, MI) as "...one of the 150 most effective and compassionate charities in the nation."

Today, Challenged America (based on Shelter Island, San Diego, California) is a year-round, therapeutic, recreational rehabilitation sailing program providing free learn-to-sail and advanced sailing instruction and educational opportunities. Hundreds of people with and without disabilities, from around the world, participate in the Challenged America program yearly. (See "2003 Sea Report.")

Funding for the Challenged America charitable program is from public bequests, boat and real estate donations, corporate sponsorship and foundations.

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