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World T.E.A.M. Sports' Sea to Shining Sea Finisher Chad Jukes Climbing Everest
Colorado veteran Chad Jukes lost his leg while in active duty in Iraq. In 2016, he will climb Everest with nonprofit USX.
As participants in U.S. Expeditions & Explorations’
Jukes, a 31-year-old Iraq combat veteran who lost a leg to injuries he received when his truck hit an anti-tank mine in December 2006, has been an active sport climber since age 12. Following surgery to amputate his leg below the knee, Jukes was back climbing within two months. In the summer of 2010, he rode across America with World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Sea to Shining Sea bicycle ride.
Other expedition team members include CPT Matthew Hickey, the Fort Carson, Colorado-based team leader and co-founder of the non-profit U.S. Expeditions & Explorations (USX); LT Harold L Earls IV of West Point, New York, the organization’
For Jukes, the 2016 expedition will be his second visit to the Himalayans, his first being in October 2010 as a member of World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Military Initiative Expedition to Nepal. The expedition’s team of disabled and able-bodied veterans successfully climbed 20,075-foot Lobuche East, an inspiring effort that was documented in the film “High Ground.”
Although reaching Everest’s 29,029-foot summit is important, Hickey reports the organization sees success from the expedition in two ways. “First is the safety and well-being of those involved with the climb,” he said. “No mountain is worth dying or even being injured for. Success is coming home to our families and friends in one piece, even if that means we don’t make the summit. Second, but of no lesser value, is the attention we bring to mental health awareness.”
“We want to raise awareness and most importantly funds to help our soldiers who are struggling with PTS and suicide,” said Earls. “Our objective is to use the publicity we will receive on Everest to bring awareness to our cause.”
Hickey reports that the non-profit USX sees the expedition as a starting point for exceptional outdoor sporting events including disabled and able-bodied Army athletes. “USX was founded with the principles of conducting challenging, audacious and never been done before expeditions and explorations. No active duty soldier or combat wounded soldier has ever stood atop the world. We wanted that to change.”
“Everest is only the first of our ‘Nexus Expeditions’
With a full schedule of training for the team until the April departure to Nepal, the climbers will remain busy. Following the September climb of Rainier, team members will climb high peaks in Colorado this October and participate in a technical training session at the Army’s Mountain Warfare School, Jericho, Vermont in January.
The Everest climb is only the beginning for USX. “I have an extreme passion and desire to try and help my fellow soldiers and inspire people that you really can accomplish anything,” said Earls. “I am only 23 years old, but I think that I can still make a positive difference that not only affects my life, but most importantly, others as well.”
With current statistics indicating that more than 22 veterans are ending their lives every day owing to PTS and other war-related issues, Hickey is hopeful the positive story of their climb will make a difference. “We want to inspire veterans to seek out help and inspire others to provide assistance.”
USX is a nonprofit organization founded by active-duty service members and veterans. The organization empowers and inspires veterans to overcome service-related mental health issues. USX does this through small outdoor expedition teams fostering camaraderie and a renewed sense of purpose. In doing so, USX will spread the spirit of the American soldier and raise awareness for veterans' mental health nationwide. Learn more: http://www.usx.vet/
About World T.E.A.M. Sports
World T.E.A.M. Sports is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization chartered in North Carolina and headquartered in Holbrook, New York. Since 1993, World T.E.A.M. Sports has organized athletic events for disabled and able bodied citizens – mountain climbing, water sports, bicycling, and more. Our events change lives through sports by: (1) Building self-confidence and physical fitness for the disabled participants;
World T.E.A.M. Sports