By: Gary Clarke
On Friday May 27, TRR Executive Director, Joe Mornini and VI program coordinator, Gary Clarke escorted a group of 8 participant to the Island of St. John, USVI to participate in the Beaches to Beaches Power Swim sponsored by the Friends of Virgin Island National Park. Although we have had a National program on St. John since 2007, this was the second year TRR has entered a team in this event; the swim is a part of our growing relationship with the St. John Island community.
Accompanying Joe and Gary were Marine Rehabilitation Coordinator for WRNMMC, Rachel Jordan, SSgt. Brandon Dodson, a recovering Marine at WR and his wife Jasmine as well as Lcpl. Chris Cowan, another active duty Marine recovering at Walter Reed. Representing the Army were Bryce Doody, the Army Athletic Rehabilitation Coordinator for WRNMMC and Army veteran Kathy Champion and her dog George. Kathy is a past participant in the Paralympics games.
Saturday after breakfast we started the day with a mile practice swim, after lunch we kayaked the course and attended the pre-swim meeting with the other 300+ entrants in the event. Sunday the race began around 8 AM, depending on the length of the course you were swimming. Swimmers had a choice of a 1-mile, a 2 ½ mile or a 3 1/2 mile open water swim. A party put on by the Friends of the VI National Park followed the event, during the award ceremony the TRR participants received special recognition for their dedicated service to their county. On Monday we were treated to 2 wonderful boating events from island charter companies. During the trip our meals were provided by island restaurants and transportation by the St. John Community Foundation. We are grateful for TRR’s Island contact Tom Larson and all his efforts with this event. We would also like to thank Nico Marcolongo of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, without grants we received from Operation Rebound for our participants, this event would not have happened.
It was a wonderful experience for all of us and we will do it again next year. If you are a swimmer and want to accept the challenge of an open water swim, contact Gary Clarke (firstname.lastname@example.org), the race occurs every year on Memorial Day weekend. We feel that if you’re kayak you better know how to swim! Come join us in 2017!