The road to the paralympics
Raytheon Technologies helps sponsor U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama
The moment they heard the whoosh of the tires rolling on the pavement, the spectators burst into cheers.
One by one, the cyclists whizzed by. Some pedaled with their hands. Some steered with one arm. Some worked together on a tandem bike.
This was the scene at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, Alabama, where more than 100 cyclists competed for a spot at the U.S. Paralympics in Tokyo. Among them were 20 cyclists from the Paralyzed Veterans of America racing team, a group of veterans with disabilities who compete in cycling and marathon events around the U.S.
Raytheon Technologies co-sponsored the event as part of its support for the Huntsville community; the city is the only place in the world where all four Raytheon Technologies businesses—Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, Collins Aerospace and Pratt & Whitney—have a physical location.
“It was an incredible show of endurance, grit and determination in the face of adversity,” said Charles Moore, Huntsville site lead at Raytheon Technologies and global vice president of the Raytheon Veterans Employee Network, or RAYVETS. “They overcame, trained and now they’re ready to compete on the world stage.”
Employees welcomed participants and presented challenge coins to the military veteran athletes. Twenty-five volunteers from the company served as course marshals, ensuring the track was clear and safe.
“It was a meaningful opportunity for employees to stand behind these amazing athletes, to support our veterans and to be inspired,” said Mitch Stevison, vice president of strategy and transformation, and Huntsville site executive at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
For Moore, supporting the community and volunteering went deeper than keeping an eye on the course.
“As a veteran, it was a special moment for me to recognize their service,” said Moore, who served eight years active duty in the U.S. Army, where he maintained Patriot air and missile defense systems.
The Paralympic para-cycling competition includes the 1,000-meter time trial and road races, both of which occurred in Huntsville during the U.S. Cycling Open. Athletes competed in four categories: handcycling, tricycling, cycling and tandem cycling.
Athletes with hand cycles use arm power to pedal while in a kneeling or recumbent position. Tricycles are common for athletes who have difficulty balancing or pedaling a standard bicycle.
Competitors who can pedal and balance use a standard bicycle; often they have prosthetic limbs or visual impairments.
Teams compete using tandem bicycles; the pilot steers while the cyclist in back provides power and speed.
“Paracycling is a physically and mentally demanding sport,” said Jim Frederick, a senior logistics specialist at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, event volunteer and 24-year U.S. Navy veteran. “They competed with heart and skill.”