Press release from Beyond the Teams:
Former Navy SEALs who have served in some of the most vital – and dangerous – military hot spots across the globe are joining together in retirement to undertake a new kind of mission: deploying into fundraising events for organizations and causes that help people with physical disabilities, cultural disadvantages and practical needs going unmet because they are the “little guys.”
Mills River’s Rick Bernard is one of the founding members of the group calling itself Beyond the Teams.
Their inaugural mission is a 1,000-mile ride down the East Coast of the U.S. from Oct. 29 to Nov. 9. Five riders, all classmates from BUD/S class 98, will start from the epicenter of Naval Special Warfare in Virginia Beach, Va., and finish at the birthplace of Navy Frogmen/SEALs in Ft. Pierce, Fla. The ride will benefit VIP Neuro Rehabilitation Center in San Diego.
“America has given us much, and it’s our duty to give something back,” Bernard explained. “All of us are grandfathers now, and we love the freedom retirement offers to spend more time with family. Even though we may be a few years older, and a couple of steps slower, we still have something to give to those unsung heroes facing physical disabilities and cultural disadvantages.”
VIP is a nonprofit center that provides physical therapy, educates patients and families regarding neurological conditions and supplies resources about nutrition, stress reduction and the benefits of exercise. It’s one of Southern California’s leaders in neurorehabilitation therapy, challenging patients 4 years old and up physically in a supportive and caring environment. Its mission is to bring top quality outpatient neuro-rehabilitation care to disabled military, veterans, children and to all who are in need, focusing on those who have difficulty moving due to stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and multiple traumas.
Beyond the Teams has a personal connection to the center and its life-changing work, as well.
Group founder Mike Charbonnet’s son was treated at VIP after being paralyzed in a skydiving accident. He not only experienced physical improvement through the treatment he received, but he also credits the center with feeding his spirits and returning hope and joy to his life. He was so impressed by VIP, and it with him, that he now serves as its director.
The bike ride will be going to Plymouth, N.C.; Cherry Point, N.C.; Wilmington, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Brunswick, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Daytona Beach. Fla. The longest leg will be 105 miles, the shortest just under 53.
Team members are excited to get moving.
“We bring the same passion and purpose to our fund-raising missions as we did to our SEAL missions,” Bernard said. “Our military training and service taught us we are stronger as a team than as individuals, so we pool our resources to serve, It is our hope our past work helps draw interest to our new work. Not to publicize ourselves, but to raise awareness of, and money for, those we serve.”
For more information on the bike ride, visit www.beyondtheteams.org.