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.”
Their inaugural mission for the group calling itself Beyond the Teams, is a 1,000-mile ride down the East Coast of the U.S. from October 29th to November 9th. 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 NeuroRehabilitation Center in San Diego.
The team is expected to be in Charleston from November 2nd to the 4th. They will stay overnight in Charleston on the 2nd and depart on the 4th after a day of rest on the 3rd.
“America has given us much, and it’s our duty to give something back,” explained Mike Charbonnet, founder of Beyond the Teams. “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.
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 Windsor, N.C.; New Bern, N.C.; Wilmington, N.C.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Brunswick, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Melbourne, 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,” Charbonnet 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 and sponsorship/donation opportunities, visit www.beyondtheteams.org.