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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Wounded warriors compete in Catalina Classic

By Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz | | August 27, 2012

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(Left to right) Gene Boyer, volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, and David McCreary, a platoon sergeant with the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, paddle to the shore of Manhattan Beach after the 32-mile paddle board race, the Catalina Classic. The WWBn-W was the only relay team to compete in the solo race.

(Left to right) Gene Boyer, volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, and David McCreary, a platoon sergeant with the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, paddle to the shore of Manhattan Beach after the 32-mile paddle board race, the Catalina Classic. The WWBn-W was the only relay team to compete in the solo race. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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Kas Parsons, an exercise physiologist for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, and Gene Boyer, a volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, embrace asfter the completion of the 55th annual Catalina Classic at Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26.

Kas Parsons, an exercise physiologist for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, and Gene Boyer, a volunteer with the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, embrace asfter the completion of the 55th annual Catalina Classic at Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team and supporters gather for group photographs in front of the Manhattan Beach Pier after finishing the Catalina Classic at Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26.

The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team and supporters gather for group photographs in front of the Manhattan Beach Pier after finishing the Catalina Classic at Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team and supporters pose for group photographs to be taken after finishing the Catalina Classic at the Manhattan Beach Pier on Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26.

The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team and supporters pose for group photographs to be taken after finishing the Catalina Classic at the Manhattan Beach Pier on Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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The Wounded Warriors Battalion-West's paddle boards were donated by the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation for the WWBn-W paddle board team to participate in the Catalina Classic, a 32-mile race from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26. The JMMF provided supplies, entry fees and training support for the wounded warriors paddle board team.

The Wounded Warriors Battalion-West's paddle boards were donated by the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation for the WWBn-W paddle board team to participate in the Catalina Classic, a 32-mile race from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach, Ca., Aug. 26. The JMMF provided supplies, entry fees and training support for the wounded warriors paddle board team. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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(Left to right) David McCreary, a platoon sergeant for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, and Joe Clark, owner of "New Star One," the boat that carried the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach while not taking their turn paddling in the Catalina Classic paddle board race, at Manhattan Beach, Calif., Aug. 26.

(Left to right) David McCreary, a platoon sergeant for the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, and Joe Clark, owner of "New Star One," the boat that carried the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team from Catalina Island to Manhattan Beach while not taking their turn paddling in the Catalina Classic paddle board race, at Manhattan Beach, Calif., Aug. 26. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Wolff-Diaz)


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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West paddle board team competed in the 55th annual Catalina Classic, a race from Catalina Island, Calif. to Manhattan Beach, Calif., Aug. 26.

The WWBn-W team was the only relay team to participate in the 32-mile solo race. This year was the second year WWBn-W took part in the event.

The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation (JMMF), a non-profit organization, provided supplies, entry fees and training support for the wounded warriors.

The JMMF is dedicated to creating and providing activities and programs to help those with mental and emotional illness benefit, regularly, from the therapeutic and healing powers of the ocean, according to the JMMF website.

By participating, wounded warriors learn to live again through sports, said Shawn Dunn, a retired chief warrant officer three and volunteer.

After 11 weeks of practice, the WWBN-W team, comprised of five active-duty Marines, crossed the finish line at six hours, 55 minutes, and 44 seconds.

“The race is closed at eight hours, and the solo winners typically come in at five-and-a-half hours,” said Kas Parson, an exercise physiologist for WWBn-W. “Our goal was to cross the finish line at six hours.”

Each of the five Marines paddled six to eight miles during the race across the Catalina Channel, which is notorious for its rough water. As the only competitors to compete as a relay team, the WWBn-W had the disadvantage.

 “Doing change-overs stops you,” said Parsons. “You get into a good pace, and stopping hinders you.”

Staff Sgt. David McCreary, a platoon sergeant with WWBn-W, saw the drawbacks, but also recognized the silver lining to the disadvantage.

“It’s kind of a trade off because we lost time, however, we always had a fresh set of arms,” McCreary said.

For some, this experience was about more than winning a race.

“Success is no longer defining themselves by their injuries,” Dunn said.

For information on the Catalina Classic, visit http://catalinaclassicpaddleboardrace.org/



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