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Michigan Handcycle Racing Series winner, Team USA racers to compete in Fifth Third River Bank Run

Drew HolzfeindGRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Five members of Team USA, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the 2015 winner of the Michigan Handcycle Racing Series are among more than 50 athletes with disabilities who will compete in the 25K Wheelchair or Handcycle Divisions of the Fifth Third River Bank Run.

The May 14 event marks the 27th consecutive year that the Mary Free Bed Guild has sponsored the 25K Wheelchair Division and the 11th for the 25K Handcycle Division.

Thirty-eight handcyclists are registered to compete, one more than in 2015, and 14 wheelers, which is up by six.

“Our registration numbers are higher than last year, which is fantastic,” said Christy VanHaver, race director for the Wheelchair and Handcycle divisions. “The fact that it is an Olympic year has been helpful.”

Athletes who will participate in the 25K Wheelchair division include:

  • U.S. Paralympics Track and Field Team member Aaron Pike of Savoy, Ill., who will compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • Kendall Gretsch, of Madison, Wis., a Team USA Paratriathlete and winner of the 2015 Women’s Wheelchair Division.
  • Team USA members James Senbata of Savoy, Ill., Daniel Romanchuk of Urbana, Ill.; and Tyler Byers of Denver, Colo.
  • U.S. Marine Corps veteran Peter Park, of Champaign, Ill.

Athletes committed to participate in the 25K Handcycle division include:

  • Brad Baumann, winner of the 2015 Michigan Handcycle Racing Series, who returns to the River Bank Run for the fifth year in a row. The Grand Rapids event is the first race in the 2016 series. Baumann, a former Mary Free Bed patient from Zeeland, Mich., coaches the Mary Free Bed Handcycling Team. He won the Male Other Handcycle Division in the 2015 River Bank Run.
  • Douglas Finkbeiner, who is riding his handcycle from his Saginaw, Mich., home to Grand Rapids for the River Bank Run.
  • Members of the Mary Free Bed Handcycling Team: Scott Cole, Camy Pierre and Eric Westover, all of Grand Rapids; Randall Abbott of Deckerville, Mich.; Garrett Bazany of Grand Haven, Mich.; Steve Chapman of Traverse City, Mich.; Ted Droski of Allendale, Mich.; James Lewis of Battle Creek., Mich., also a member of Mary Free Bed’s Quad Rugby and Wheelchair Softball teams; Jared Hart of Zeeland, Mich.; and Bryan Wilkinson of Howell, Mich., who coaches the team with Baumann.

In a friendly competition, Mary Free Bed also has challenged the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago to recruit wheelchair and handcycle racers to participate. The winning hospital will earn the right to display the “Proud Mary Cup” for the next 12 months. Mary Free Bed won the “Proud Mary Cup” in 2015.

For more information, email VanHaver at christy.vanhaver@maryfreebed.com.

Mary Free Bed is a not-for-profit, nationally accredited, rehabilitation hospital. For 125 years, Mary Free Bed has restored hope and freedom through rehabilitation for children and adults who have experienced brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, multiple traumas, amputations, cancer and other diagnoses. The combination of comprehensive services and an exclusive focus on rehabilitation enables specialty physicians and staff to help patients achieve outstanding clinical results. For additional information, visit maryfreebed.com.

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