Eastbourne Paralympian Joe Townsend is joining a team of eight wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans to take part in the Race Across America Challenge.
The race starts on June 17 and the team aims to raise £100,000 for Help for Heroes as a way of giving back to the charity which has supported them in rebuilding their lives.
The team will be captained by former 40 Commando Royal Marine and now military Paralympian Joe, 29. Joe was injured in 2008 after standing on an Improvised Explosive Device and lost both of his legs in the blast. Following 14 hours of surgery at Camp Bastion, he was flown back to the UK where he spent five weeks in a critical care ward.
He said, “Sport has given me a purpose in life after having my career ripped away from me. It is the reason I get out of bed every morning, it’s my job and it shapes my choices in life. I love a challenge and having completed some of the toughest sporting challenges, I need to keep pushing myself. Post Rio 2016 I wanted to do something for myself because training for a four-year cycle is incredibly hard, especially to keep motivated psychologically.
“I want another taste of the military humour and camaraderie that cannot be found in civilian life. I need a top up of this every now and again to remind me of how I operate as a person.”
Getting involved in sport helps with self-confidence and feeling psychologically empowered. These significant mental health benefits can be translated outside of sport and into everyday life.
Starting in Oceanside, under one of the longest piers in California, RAAM spans 3,000 miles, climbs 175,000 feet, crosses 12 states and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland. To achieve their seven-day target, the team will need to maintain an average speed of more than 18.3mph covering a minimum of 440 miles a day.
The RAAM is the world’s pre-eminent and longest running endurance cycling race and is considered by many to be the one of the world’s toughest endurance cycling events. The riders are using the challenge as a recovery tool, as well as aiming to raise £100,000 for Help for Heroes as a way of giving back to a charity which has supported them since injury.
For more information on Help for Heroes, go to www.helpforheroes.org.uk/give-support