Wrangler National Patriot Visits Coast Guard


South Padre Island, Texas -  Returning to United States Coast Guard Station South Padre Island and Marine Security Technician Detachment Brownsville, has been an effort for us. The last trip to USCG Sector Corpus Christi, a few months ago, included a scheduled visit south that had to be postponed due to the mission requirements of the station’s aircraft - this time we flew straight to Brownsville. 

Two months ago, instead of heading south our mentors adjusted schedules and went underway on a Sector Corpus Christi Construction Tender and filled up their final day in Corpus watching first hand the on going battle with post hurricane Harvey cleanup efforts. 

This week our Coasties were reunited with mentors on the southern border thanks to a dedicated trip bypassing the northern area of operations.  This past summer Harvey narrowly missed wrecking havoc on this border region, but what the southern border teams missed in the way of storm damage has always been more then made up for in their perseverance to stem the flow of drug smuggling and illegal commercial fish kidnapping. 

“We made a commitment to the Sector to visit as many times as possibly 3 years ago, but when you look at the land mass and number of stations it’s been hard to get out to every station… every visit,” says Rob Powers, the host of American300’s ‘Never Quit Series’, adding, “so getting back on deck with SPI and MSD Brownsville was a priority, these teams just never seem to catch a break in operational tempo.” 

With a guitar strung around his neck and solid red George Strait Wrangler Shirt pressed like his jeans , mentor Austin Wahlert, stepped before a packed galley to share his families story for the first time in front of Service Members this week.  As a member of the Wrangler National Patriot program, the former professional bull rider turned musician was right where he wanted to be.

“I gotta tell you guys, I’ve wanted to be a part of the Wrangler National Patriot Tours

program ever since the company partnered up with American300 years ago. Now to finally be on a trip, standing before you I’m as nervous as the first time I sat on top of a 2,000 pound bull.” said Wahlert, as he hugged his guitar like a favorite blanket across his chest. 

Seeing that no one was going to throw food at him, but instead having read tidbits of his story witnessing the Service Members shout out welcomes, Austin dove into telling the story of his 29 year existence on planet earth. From loosing friends and family members during High School to nearly loosing his wife and daughter as a young husband, Austin shared it all.  “Being told by doctors that I could never ride a bull again hit me hard, but nothing like being told that my daughter had Downs Syndrome or that my wife had suffered a stroke,” shared Austin, who went on to share how he reinvented himself as a songwriter ‘who plays the guitar’ and television personality and show producer. 

For nearly an hour Austin shared and kept sharing stories that made the room reflect on the absurdity and madness that life can be at times.  Throughout it all with a message of work and never quit… no matter how tough things appear.

Thanks to leaderships acceptance of our programming Austin’s story wasn’t limited to a microphone drop and stage walk off to photos, autographs and handshakes.  Instead like all American300 mentor visits, Austin spent the next 3 days doing everything from performing writing songs with Coasties to going underway on numerous missions at sea.


“I witnessed these guys process illegal fishermen in the middle of the night and got to pilot one of their 3 million dollar boats, a boat that I had performed boat checks on with the team 12 hours earlier in the day.” said Wahlert, adding, “I’ll be headed overseas to undisclosed bases on the Armed Forces Entertainment/American300 Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour next month, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but there’s nothing that will ever erase the memories and friendships that I’ve made with these Coasties .  I just pray that sharing my life story shines a light on what is truly possible in life… no matter how hard things hit you upside the head… provided you just don’t quit.” 

To learn more about mentor Austin Wahlert visit: https://www.facebook.com/austinwahlertband

For more on American300 go to: www.american300.org   

American300 Mentors Head to Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania -  American300 returns to Africa, this month on a mission of personal growth and exploration.  After 12 years of supplying mentors to military members stationed around the world, the nonprofit has started a program to enhance the personal growth from within it’s own ranks. 

Last year, the nonprofit started supporting one of it's purple heart recipients in his goal of standing on top of all 7 of the world’s tallest continental peaks. ( 7 Summits Challenge ) 

The effort resulted in American300 mentor Benjamin Breckheimer, US Army combat wounded warrior, standing on top of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest, the 2nd and 3rd of his 7 summits goal. ( He just completed his 4th summit last week with Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua.)

As word spread of Benjamin’s achievements, fellow mentor and purple heart recipients Marlene Rodriguez and AJ Hunter, expressed interest in pushing their limits in the mountains as well. In the case of AJ it was a matter of providing opportunity,  Hunter has become a successful mountaineer and guide since being medically discharged.

 "Marlene, is a different story, she has zero high altitude climbing experience like so many wounded warriors from Texas," laughs fellow mentor Benjamin Breckheimer, adding, "But she's got the fire burning within and we have an amazing team of mentors who are renowned Everest climbers, so with time we'll get her trained up and on the big big mountain."  

This week, a team of mentors returns to Tanzania, to ascend the mountain via a new route that hopefully will prove to be the nonprofit's primary 'mentors in the mountains' route. "It's so important that a person's first experience in big mountain climbing is an excellent one," say Chris Klinke, one of American300's Purple Heart Summits team leaders, adding, "Last year we utilized a different route that was solid, but not exactly perfect for a rank beginner - our hope is that the team headed over this week will provided us with feedback that we can use to determine our best plan moving forward with Marlene's climb this summer." 

The new route will provide over a week of time on the mountain. The reason is two-fold says Klinke, “Acclimatization is a major issue, Kilimanjaro offers more vertical feet of climbing then Mt Everest - altitude sickness is real and can kill, but our program is also about bonding, having time to share and grow stronger together as a team."  

Kilimanjaro is a baby step from where AJ and Marlene really want to go which 8 thousand meter peaks like Mount Everest.  If they continues to progress in training American300's goal is tomsupport them.

For more on American300's Purple Heart Summits:  www.american300.org/purpleheartsummits 


American300 is an all volunteer nonprofit 501(c)3 with a mission of supporting our Department of Defense and Department of State operations around the world. www.American300.org 

8th Annual Wrangler National Patriot Military Reunion

TSgt Chung and CW2 Martinez - WFNR18
Las Vegas, Nevada -   The last time world champion cowgirl Annie Bianco, saw US Army Chief Warrant Officer Gamaliel 'Gamy' Martinez, and US Air Force Technical Sergeant Nick Chung, was seven months ago and half a world away from the lights of Las Vegas. 

As member of the Wrangler National Patriot team, Wrangler’s ‘Outlaw Annie’ has traveled around the world with fellow cowgirls and cowboys on Memorial Day making sure that our deployed service members know just how much they mean to the entire western lifestyle community. 

“Our mission is to visit the most remote and isolated outposts in the world, to stand beside our military members in saluting the service and honoring the sacrifice over Memorial Day week,” says Annie, who has traveled multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, northern Africa and remote Coast Guard Stations in Alaska to name a few areas of operation.

For U.S. Army Blackhawk pilot CW2 Martinez, a member of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, having had the Wrangler cowboys and cowgirls land on Camp Bondsteel, in Kosovo brought a huge morale boost.  “These guys come in with American300, which is a Veteran run nonprofit that specializes in real world resiliency programming year-round, their guests are always so positive and focused on our people.” says Chief Martinez, who along with Tech Sergeant Chung, of Moody Air Force Base,  have arrived in Vegas as special guests of the Wrangler Corporation and the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association. 

“We started selecting special guests we'd meet while on tour, as special guests of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo back in 2010,” says Jeff Chadwick, a director with Wrangler Corporation, who has been on all 8 tours to date,  adding, “ The goal is to give command approved selected service members an amazing time showcasing their branch of service and individual units… we also like to ensure that they see first hand just how much the rodeo and western community loves them.” 

American300’s Colonel John Bates, USMC retired, a three-time purple heart recipient and Robi Powers, an Army Veteran and founder of the nonprofit spend months year-round bringing mentors to bases, but are quick to point out that during the hollowed final days of May, the focus is on connecting the world class Wrangler Cowgirls and Cowboys with our Troops serving out on the edges of theater operations.  “For those of us in uniform, Memorial Day is every day, but during the federally recognized day each year there’s no better group of American’s to stand alongside our fellow service members then these Wrangler National Patriots.” says Colonel Bates. 

For more on the Wrangler National Patriot Program: www.wranglernationalpatriot.com 


To follow American300j programming visit:  www.american300.org  

Purple Heart Visits Corpus Christi Coasties

Corpus Christi, Texas -  After months of suffering from over a dozen seizures a day and multiple failed suicide attempts including one that left her with a broken leg, 3x combat deployed and twice blown up, US Army purple heart recipient Staff Sergeant Marlene Rodriguez, retired,  knew it was time to try something, anything different to get her off the booze and medication mixed roller coaster she was on. 

For weeks she had turned down her best friends request to join in on a whitewater rafting trip on Idaho’s Salmon River.  Finally, with thoughts of her constant seizures and drowning in the back of her head, she picked up the phone and said she’d go. 

After three days of downstream travel, Marlene Rodriguez realized that the 5 day rafting trip was going to be over without her having stepped foot off of the huge ‘cadillac’ supply raft she’d been floating on.   She’d spent hours each day watching her friend and others take on the rapids in the much smaller kayaks and knew it was time to sink or swim. 

“Something inside me just clicked, I hadn’t had a seizure in a while and I was like ‘what the hell’ I might as well try this kayaking stuff out.”  

It wasn’t long before she found herself navigating a major set of rapids. “ It was crazy, I didn’t know what I was doing and then suddenly I shot out of a wave and was in calm water. It took me a few moments to realize that I’d survived the rapids. I was so stoked, I raised my paddle over my head and pumped the air… I hadn’t felt that level of happiness in a long long time.” 

Without realizing it Marlene, had triggered something powerful enough inside her to do what medication and traditional therapy hadn’t been able to accomplish - she stopped having seizures.   It was right there in the river, sitting calmly in the kayak that she realized how cool it would have been for Private Kevin M. Jones, (KIA September 22, 2005) to have been able to do something like this.  

Kevin, was one of Sergeant Rodriguez’ soldiers who died from an IED explosion during her second deployment in Iraq, he was sitting directly beside Marlene when the device went off underneath their vehicle.  “From that moment on I decided that I was going to start living life and dedicating my adventures to Private Jones.” 

Today, Marlene has committed herself to attempting to be the first female purple heart recipient to summit Mount Everest and rest assured Private Kevin Jones will be with her every step of the way.  “I want to shatter the glass ceiling for my fellow combat wounded sisters, I know Kevin would be proud to be a part of making that happen.”   

To date, less then 500 women have reached the summit of Everest and only 3 purple heart recipients have accomplished the feat - all men.

Along with American300’s Rob Powers, the two will spend days with US Coast Guardsmen assigned to Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi.  “Our all volunteer effort is focused on connecting relevant and relatable mentors with our service members around the world, “says Powers, adding, “This will mark our fourth visit to Sector Corpus Christi and first since the damages inflicted by tropical hurricane Harvey, if there’s a group of service members who know a thing or two about never quitting it’s our Coasties in Corpus Christi - they like Marlene and I are going to really enjoy spending time together.” 


For more information on American300 or to reach out to any of the organizations mentors visit: www.American300.org 

Astronaut Inspires El Salvadoran Youth to Dream Big and Work Hard

ONETEAM Envoys -  As the game clock buzzer sounded, Steve Swanson knew that he wasn’t going to state championships.  Instead the Steamboat Springs, Colorado high school senior would be joining his teammates in turning in their basketball uniforms to coach Kelly Meeks and calling it a session - the last of his high school varsity sports career.   

It would be nearly 20 years before Swanson, would find himself on another team - as a member of NASA’s Astronaut program. 

Over the span of his high school years, athletics were a huge driving force in keeping Steve  focused on studies.   As a starter on the small town’s football and basketball teams he constantly balanced family, studies and sport.  

“It wasn’t just my parents that kept me on track, I had coach Meeks, who fully expected me to excel both on and off the court,” recalls Astronaut Swanson, who along with Mike Lane and Rob Powers, volunteer for the nonprofit American300 and it’s ONETEAM program. 

The group is headed to El Salvador, this week, a trip that Powers, makes nearly every other month with special guests in support of the nonprofits youth development project there. On this trip, the team will be spending time with young student athletes from two rural communities that represent the programs youth project. 

“If someone told me that our young players would be spending time with Olympic champions, US National team coaches and medical physicians, a NFL Super Bowl Champion and NASA Astronaut all in the span of our first 7 months of programming I would have just laughed, but that is exactly what ONETEAM Envoys done,” says Felipe Flores, manager of ESA’s Youth Rugby Program.  Flores added, “The ONETEAM guests all bring personal stories of how hard can  turn dreams into reality, they also show our players that a group of Americans care a lot about them, which for these rural kids means more then words can describe.” 

Whether in sports, school or the community, Swanson like all the ONETEAM guests show that being on a well run, disciplined team goes a long way in helping achieve individual goals in life. 


For the young rugby players that he’ll be spending time with this week the message is simple: work hard, dream big and you might just yourself living amongst the stars someday. 

For more about American300's ONETEAM Envoys programming visit: www.oneteamenvoys.org 

American300 Shares #BeThere Message with Airmen

Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier LA -  After months of suffering from over a dozen seizures a day and multiple failed suicide attempts including one that left her with a broken leg, 3x combat deployed US Army purple heart recipient Marlene Rodriguez, knew it was time to try something, anything to get her off the booze and medication mixed roller coaster she was on. 

For weeks she had blown off her best friend, who had been begging her to join in on a whitewater rafting trip down Idaho’s Salmon River.  Finally, with thoughts of seizures and drowning in the back of her head, she picked up the phone, called her friend and said she’d go. 

With visions of tracer rounds streaking through the night skies of the middle east, Benjamin Breckheimer raised his right hand and joined the Army.  He wanted to serve and take the fight to the enemy.  “I came in as a operating room surgical technician and ended up spending a year in Baghdad trying to save lives, but guys just kept coming in all busted up and it seemed so unfair that I wasn’t up there on the front lines with them,” reflected US Army Staff Sergeant Breckheimer, to an audience of Airmen from Air Force Global Strike Command’s 2nd Bomb Wing this week, he added, “So I cross trained into combat arms when I came off that first deployment and became a Cavalry Scout.”  

Not long after advanced scout training, Benjamin got what he asked for with a re-deployment. This time he’d be heading further east to Afghanistan.  Three months into his tour, the ground beneath Staff Sergeant Breckheimer’s Stryker vehicle erupted, leaving Benjamin nearly dead, the sole recipient of the majority of the enemies blast.  

With life going out of him, his team dragged him out of the drivers compartment through a passageway referred to by Scouts as the ‘hell hole’.  “The guys struggled at first to get me out… then someone realized that my right leg was still attached by a few tendons, once they snaked my severed leg up out of the engine compartment it was pretty easy to slide be back and out of what was left of the stryker.” 

With three days of water behind her, Marlene Rodriguez realized that the 5 day rafting trip she was on was going to be over without her having stepped foot off of the huge ‘cadillac’ supply raft she was on.   She’d spent hours each day watching her friend and others take on the rapids in the much smaller sport kayaks and knew it was time to sink or swim. “Something inside me just clicked, I hadn’t had a seizure in a while and I was like ‘what the hell’ I might as well try this kayaking stuff out.”  

It wasn’t long before she found herself navigating a major set of rapids. “ It was crazy, I didn’t really know what I was doing and then suddenly I shot out of a wave and was in calm water at the bottom. It took me a few moments to realize that I’d survived and I was so stoked I raised my paddle over my head and pumped the air.  I hadn’t felt this level of happiness in a long long time.” 

Years after Benjamin’s fateful day in Afghanistan he was discharged from San Antonio’s Wounded Transition Unit with pins, rods, screws, skin graphs… and the majority of his limb salvaged right leg.

As his moved his fused right ankle across the concrete sidewalk towards his car, Benjamin knew he never wanted to return
to this place.  The reality was that he didn’t know if all the surgeries and thousands of hours of therapy had even been worth it.  “Not long before being discharged my wife served me with divorce papers.  If you think getting blown up is bad, try dealing with that mental mind crusher is way worse.”   

Unchecked and waisting away both mentally and physically in his house, Benjamin found himself late one night holding a near empty bottle of booze in one hand and 9mm revolver in the other.  “Just before I pulled the trigger I took one last look at my service dogs and realized just how screwed up things had gotten. Even in my foggy mental state it hit me, I lived alone and didn’t get visitors. If I went through with it, my dogs would be forced to eat what was left of my head and body just to survive - the thought of that was enough to make me call it off for the night.” 

Benjamin woke up the next morning and realizing just how close he’d come to quitting the night before and it forced him to seriously reflect on life, his family and friends.   “I got pissed off at myself, I came so close to causing my family so much pain and suffering that I knew it was time to do something to squash the dark thoughts. I’d always been fascinated by Mount Everest, so lacking a better plan I decided that I was going to climb it.” 

Without realizing it Marlene Rodriguez had triggered something powerful enough to do what medication hadn’t been able to do - she stopped having seizures.   “I sat there floating in the calm water and realized how cool it would have been for Private Jones to have been able to do something like this.”  Jones was one of Sergeant Rodriguez’ soldiers who died from an IED during her second deployment in Iraq. “From that moment on I decided that I was going to start living life and dedicating my adventures to Private Jones.” 

Today, Benjamin represents the 3rd Purple Heart recipient to have stood on top of the world, having achieved the summit of Mount Everest in May of 2017. 

Today, Marlene has committed herself to attempting to be the first female purple heart recipient to summit the world’s tallest mountain and is training constantly between her undergraduate studies. 

As members of the all volunteer nonprofit American300 mentoring program, Benjamin and Marlene along with the program’s founder Rob Powers spent three days sharing these and other life stories with Airmen at Barksdale Air Force Base.  The goal being to hammer home a message of never quitting with everyone they encountered. 

* #BeThere is a hashtag created by our Department of Defense Suicide Prevention programs.  September represents Suicide Prevention Month for the DoD and Veteran’s Affairs Office. 



For more information on American300 or to reach out to any of the organizations mentors visit: www.American300.org 

Heroes Sports Teams Up with Am300 to Visit US Coast Guard

Corpus Christi, Texas -  For over a decade American300 has been delivering messaging to our Department of Defense and Homeland Security, in an effort to raise awareness surrounding the subject of resiliency.  Utilizing hundreds of individuals with resilient rich personal stories and a willingness to share, the nonprofit has exposed service members to some of life’s most dramatic case studies in resiliency with the goal of creating dialogue while breaking down barriers as to what the human dimension is capable of in life - if we just don't quit. 

This week, American300 teams up with Heroes Sports, a nonprofit created by Army veteran Mike Barker, of San Antonio to not only deliver personal stories of never quitting, but to bounce and shoot a basketball while doing it. “I got turned onto Heroes Sports by one of our mentors who just became the third purple heart recipient to summit Mt Everest this spring,” says Rob Powers, founder of the mentoring program, he adds, “then I’m in Jordan talking with a senior NCO who mentions Heroes Sports founder Mike Barker and how he knew the two of us would get along.” 

Upon return from the middle east trip, Powers reached out to Barker and the two instantly hit it off.  “Rob started mentoring 11 years ago after loosing a friend in Afghanistan and I started our organization for much the same reason,” says Mike Barker who along with others have created a comprehensive sports and outdoors program for active duty and veteran service members a like. “Rob asked if any of our team members had done much life story sharing on active duty bases and the answer was not that much.” 


That’s all changing quickly, as American300 and Heroes Sports have organized the first THREEonTHREE Basketball Tour with US Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi Service Members this week.   While the Heroes Sports players will be sharing their life stories with Coasties for the first time, they’ll also be playing a game that is anything but new to this group of Army veterans.  

“It’s a natural partnership, Mike and his team are showcasing one of the most critical elements to resilient living - teamwork.  Through group activity individuals who might otherwise not have a ‘shipmate’ or ‘battle buddy’ end up being surrounded by them.  True teamwork breeds trusted communication and a willingness to engage with the person on your left and right.” says Powers, adding that American300 is constantly looking for ways to showcase resilient living in new and meaningful ways. 


This will be American300’s third trip to USCG Sector Corpus Christi and first for the Heroes Sports members: Dante Langston, Ian 'Doc' Crews, Bryan Burr and Mike Barker, all US Army Veterans.  For more information on American300 and Heroes Sports programming go to:www.American300.org  www.heroessports.org Both also have platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Cowgirls Trade Cowboy Christmas For Time With Troops

Bridgeport, CA -   While rodeo committees from coast to coast celebrate our nation’s birthday with patriotic, cash rich performance purses, a group of professional cowgirls are giving their barrel racing equine partners the weekend off to spend time with our Marines. 

Instead of chasing the cash and points during Cowboy Christmas, Wrangler National Patriot Cowgirls: Jenna Smeenk, Trisha Shields and Renae Cowley are spending the 4th with a very special group of Marines from the United States Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center and the community that supports them. 

Saluting our military is nothing new for Wrangler National Patriots.  Over the past 8 years they’ve found themselves on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq and countless other remote locations around the world.  With the ‘Wrangler National Patriot Memorial Day Tour’ heading into it’s 9th edition next year, the program’s sister tour, ‘Wrangler National Patriot Mountain Tour’ is celebrating it’s 6th visit to our Department of Defense’s only animal packers and special operations horsemanship instructional programs.

“This is my second 4th with the Marines and greater Bridgeport family that supports them and I can’t wait to be back around friends, breath the Sierra Nevada mountain air,” says Jenna Smeenk, a United States Air Force Veteran who deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq during her years with Air Force Special Operations Command, she adds, “There’s always going to be another barrel to race around, but there’s only one 4th each year and being invited by American300 to spend it with our Marines and their families is priceless.” 

Joining Jenna, are fellow barrel racers: Renae Cowley and Trisha Shields, who continues to serve with our United States Air Force Special Operations Command.  The three also hold Miss Rodeo titles with Trisha having served as Miss Rodeo USA, Jenna, Miss Rodeo Florida and Renae, Miss Rodeo Utah. 

While their own horses are home taking a much deserved break in the pro-rodeo circuit this weekend, the cowgirls won’t be out of the saddle much.  

Tony Parkhurst, USMC Master Sergeant retired, manages the equine programming for the training center and has the cowgirls lined out with almost nothing but riding.  As tradition has it, the three will be honorary members of the ‘Marine Corps Dream Team’, which participates in Centennial Livestock Companies produced annual Bridgeport Ranch Rodeo, they’ll also ride side by side with Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center Cadre during the annual Bridgeport Parade on the 4th. 

“American300 has been bringing world class Wrangler cowboys and cowgirls to the base and community for years now, their presence has become part of our July 4th fabric,” says Marcus Bunn, Centennial Livestock’s ranch manager and co-host of the ranch rodeo along with his wife Kim each year, adding, “it means a lot to see how much the western community comes together in recognizing this very special group of Marines, that live and operate in the mountains with us.”


About American300 -  The all volunteer nonprofit has been engaged in producing resiliency minded engagements for our Department of Defense and Department of State since 2006.  For more information visit: www.American300.org   or follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. 

Chasing Horizons - Bryan Heselbach's Story

Hohenfels Germany -  Chasing Horizons, featuring ultra-distance cyclist Bryan Heselbach of Steamboat Springs, Colorado will be interacting with US Army Garrison Bavaria - Hohenfels soldiers and their family members as Hohenfels Morale Welfare and Recreation along with MWR Outdoor Recreation staff, host a group ride this Friday evening followed by a BBQ and meet and greet with Mr. Heselbach.
Mr. Heselbach, is part of American300 a nonprofit that supports the DoD’s resiliency initiatives by bringing mentors to bases worldwide.   In the case of Hohenfels, American300 has been visiting the base since 2009.
“Hohenfels has with one of the best MWR and Outdoor Recreation staffs in the entire military and we take advantage of this fact every time we visit,” says Robi Powers, founder of the American300 mentoring program, who will be joining Heselbach on this trip,  adding “Whether a NFL Super Bowl Champion, Everest Expedition Leader, Wounded Warrior, or in this case, a former National Team Cyclist who now competes in ultra-distance events; the message is always the same, Never Quit  and the Hohenfels MWR staff allows our mentors the opportunity to deliver the message in fun and unique ways every time we visit them.” 

For Bryan Heselbach, the road to representing our country at the World Championships was ‘paved in dirt’, says Powers, pointing out that Bryan, was named to the World Championship Team that competed in Bromont, Quebec Canada in 1992. 

Not long after the World Championships, Bryan along with his wife Anne moved to Hahn’s Peak Village, a former mining town, 26 miles north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. 
It was in Hahn’s Peak Village, working as a construction foreman that he nearly lost his life one day a few years later in the late 90’s, the result of falling off a roof and breaking his body both inside and out.   During his lengthy recovery, the question of whether he would work again let alone ever ride a bike again was in question.

Through perseverance however, Bryan, slowly recovered, eventually regaining the ability to work and most importantly to his mental well being, his ability to ride a bike.
“Cycling has always been part of my life, it’s part of my DNA and on that fateful day back in the 90’s I almost lost it,” recalls Heselbach. 

After years of gradually getting stronger and stronger, it was time for the now master aged rider to set his sights on something larger, or in Heselbach’s case: longer. 
Aside from offering over 3 million acres of National Forest, Hahn’s Peak Village rests aside one of the countries most extreme mountain bike races; ‘Tour the Divide’ a solo unsupported 2,800 mile race from Baniff, Canada to the Mexican border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.  “Since 2009, I’d been watching mountain bike racers roll through the area, watching them chase the horizon and it lit a fire inside of me,” says Heselbach, who ended up entering the ultra-distance race and finishing 29th in a time of 21 days 4 hours. “After finishing the ‘Divide’ I was hooked and saw that there was a similar cross-country road bike race ( unsupported ) so I entered the ‘Trans Am Bike Race’ the following year.” 

Now with two of the most grueling unsupported cycling races in the ‘bank’, Heselbach is exploring other ultra-distance events as a way of pushing his limits and expanding his horizons.  “There’s always going to be setbacks in life, the trick is focusing out on the horizon and chasing after it… especially when times get tough.” 


American300 - The 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit hosts unique resiliency events on military bases worldwide.  For more information visit: www.American300.org 

8th Annual Western Themed Tour Heads Overseas for Troops

Wrangler Team with Troops in Africa 2016
Europe/Middle East - Wrangler Cowboys and Cowgirls along with Nashville Artists embark on their 8th Wrangler National Patriot Tour on Monday May 22nd.   Where is our Department of Defense Armed Forces Entertainment office sending them this year? 

Bases in Kosovo and Jordan 

To date the western team has visited: Alaska, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Oman, our Pacific Command and UAE to name a few. This year’s Memorial Day tour will be mixing the lush green rolling hills and cool european temperatures of Kosovo with the baking hot sands and stone of Jordan in the middle east.  

“Where we go each year doesn’t matter, why we go and who we go to see is what this annual trip is all about,” says Jeff Chadwick, a Director with the Wrangler Corporation who has been on all of the trips to date, adding, “Armed Forces Entertainment and American300 have done a fantastic job over the years of moving us around the world with a focus on remote and isolated base visits which is the only thing we’ve grown to expect.” 

Mr. Chadwick who held a professional rodeo card himself ‘back in the day’ has assembled an all-star team for this year’s trip including tour mainstay Lucas Hoge and his Band's lead guitarist Thomas Becker, joined by Wrangler Cowgirls: Annie Bianco, Jenna Smeenk and Brittany Truman along with World Champion and Hall of Fame Cowboy Bullfighter Rob Smets. 

Non-stop boot stomping musical performances, on the fly roping lessons and most
Lucas Hoge & Thomas Becker - 0200hrs 'Guard Shack' Concert 2016
importantly western community icons getting to spend time with the troops is what this tour has always been about.  American300's John Bates and Robi Powers couldn’t be more proud of this traditional effort. 

Colonel Bates, a retired Marine Corps 3x purple heart recipient sums it up this way: “there’s something about putting Nashville’s finest with Cowgirls and Cowboys and watching them show the Troops that they’re admired and appreciated in and around Memorial Day that rings of ‘they're not forgotten - you're not forgotten' loud and clear… it’s pure Americana… with love by some the most genuine troops supporters you'll ever find." 

About Armed Forces Entertainment

Armed Forces Entertainment is the official Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment. For more information visit www.armedforcesentertainment.com ,  Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

About American300 


American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 created to support our Department of Defense and Department of State with meaningful resiliency programming.  Established in 2006, American300 programming has brought special guests to dozens of countries and over 500 military installation visits to date.  For more visit www.American300.org and www.OneTeamEnvoys.org - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. 

ONETEAM Medical Team - Collaboration Is Key

San Salvador - ONETEAM Envoys return to El Salvador with focus on expanding the
Youth Rugby Dir. Felipe Flores with young players
relationship between the ESA Youth Rugby project and government sports medicine officials. 

Now in it's third month of programming, the ESA Youth Rugby Project has grown from zero participants to well over two-hundred.  While young community members are learning the sport from local coaches and program manager Felipe Flores, there are development aspects in play off the field as well.  "Rugby is a contact sport and while our youth 7's program is focused on speed and passing there will be tackling and the potential for collisions that take place," says Felipe Flores, adding "thanks to ONETEAM Envoy's medical team we are collectively addressing all aspects of sports medicine in a collaborative effort with our nations sports ministry and Olympic Committee sports medicine staff members." 

While rugby is a 'contact' sport, Flores points out that a review and broad discussion on concussion protocols is needed in El Salvador.   He points to other sports where concussions happen as proof that El Salvador needs to catch up.  "We have hard court sports like: basketball, volleyball, martial arts and open field sports like soccer that all suffer from concussions, so it's imperative that we create a discussion with medical professionals." says Flores. 

ONETEAM Envoy's Laila Powers M.D. heads up a team of American physicians who are committed to ensuring that El Salvador's sports medicine team members have all the subject matter expertise available to them. "It's not an issue of our physicians knowing more, it's about creating open lines of communication so that we can be as collaborative as possible," says Doctor Powers, adding "programs like 'impact' concussion testing and concussion protocols are constantly being updated both in America and around the world, the more professional care givers can share with one another the better." 

The ONETEAM Envoy visit will also include meetings with ESA Rugby board members, US Embassy staff members as well as El Salvador Sports Ministry senior leaders. Time will also be spent visiting with the four existing ESA Youth Rugby programs and meeting with officials from two additional cities that have expressed interest in joining the project.  

Hoosiers Host Nation's Largest Half Marathon - in Kosovo

500 Festival Public Relations -   The 500 Festival is taking a remote version of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Finish Line 500 Festival 5K to overseas troops stationed at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo on April 28 and 29. Hosted by our deployed Indiana National Guard, and other U.S. Armed Forces personnel, the individuals stationed at Camp Bondsteel will have a unique Indy Mini experience that feels like home.

“Holding a satellite version of the 2017 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is something we’re very excited about this year,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “It’s an honor and a privilege to take our event and deliver it to Hoosiers and other armed forces personnel overseas. We can’t wait to see the impact this has on both our troops and our participants at home.”

Longtime Indy Mini public address announcer Rob Powers will travel to Kosovo to manage the event as a representative of his nonprofit organization, American300.org and the 500 Festival.  

“Emceeing one of the greatest half marathons in the world is an incredible honor, but being able to announce at a forward deployed remote Mini-Marathon is beyond words,” Powers said. “And then I get to fly half way around the world to do it again a week later in front of thousands here in Indy.”

Powers will travel with Vietnam wounded warrior Charlie Manis; a decorated member of Indiana’s famed D Company, 151st Rangers. The Indiana Army National Guardsmen will be joined by businessmen Aasif Bade, who serves as a board member of the 500 Festival. “Charlie and Aasif are going to be our grand marshals and will be jumping into runs each day... we've already go them practicing with the green starters flags." added Powers laughingly. 

Troops in Kosovo will receive the full experience, from medals and shirts to an exciting and challenging 13.1 mile race. They’ll also hear the same voice that launches the Mini-Marathon back in Indy the following weekend.

The 2017 remote Mini-Marathon is the first since 2013 when the 500 Festival hosted a similar event. Prior to 2013, the last time Troops had run a remote Mini-Marathon was when Powers helped host a forward version in Kuwait in 2009 with the same unit that is now deployed to Kosovo. 

“We’re thankful for organizations working to support our service members while overseas,” said Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, the adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard. “Events like this promote healthy lifestyles that improve the overall well-being of our soldiers.”

The 500 Festival will continue a season-long campaign of encouraging our Indiana military 

personnel throughout running events this spring. The 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy, consists of races in February, March and April mirroring a half-marathon training program. A Thank You banner, signed by staff, volunteers and participants will be delivered to Kosovo and displayed at the race to support and encourage troops as they prepare for their own Mini-Marathon.

About American 300


Founded in 2006, American300 is a 501c3 not-for-profit that supports our Department of Defense with subject matter experts on the topic of resiliency. To date American300 has conducted well over 500 worldwide base visits with mentors ranging from Wounded Warriors and Olympians to Professional Athletes and Astronauts. The primary goal being to connect remotely deployed Service Members with mentors who bring a unique perspective on the general theme of never quitting while striving to be the best in service to our country, their families and communities they live and operate in. More at: American300.org 

EVEREST SUCCESS!

Benjamin Breckheimer, USA SSG ret. 
Kilimanjaro Tanzania and Mount Everest Nepal - American300 mentor Benjamin Breckheimer, US Army purple heart recipient is making good on a life goal of taking his purple heart to the summit of the world's tallest continental mountains. 

After retreating due to sickness on Kilimanjaro a few years ago, Benjamin along with 17 American300 support climbers reached the summit of Africa's tallest mountain this spring. Knocking off two of his '7 Summits' (Mount Elbrus in Russia and Kilimanjaro in Africa) and the first of his 'redemption summits'.   

With five more mountains on his list, Benjamin returned to the states, not to relax and celebrate his African success, but to prepare for the next 7 summit: Mount Everest in Nepal. 

This past week, American300 founder Rob Powers traveled to Nepal with Benjamin to begin the acclimatization routine hand him off to fellow Am300 mentor Chhiring Dorje Sherpa. Together with two Swedish and one Polish climber Benjamin will be attempting to summit the world's tallest mountain this May as part of the Rolwaling International Expedition. 

Like, Kilimanjaro this will be Benjamin's second visit to the mountain.  Unlike, Kilimanjaro where he feel victim to sickness, Benjamin was returning to base camp from high on the mountain in 2015, when the major earthquake rocked the country and caused catastrophic damages and death throughout Nepal to include 19 climbers being killed by avalanches. 

"Getting knocked down mentally came way closer to killing me then having my leg blown off," says Benjamin, referring to the darkness that enveloped him during his recovery from the Afghanistan roadside bomb. "Having this 7 summits goal has ignited a passion within me that has restored me, I can't wait to get back onto the mountain."   

American300 will continue to provide updates as they become available from Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and the International Expedition team members. 

UPDATE - 20APR17 - The team is at base camp and has completed several acclimatization climbs to 5,000 meters.  All team members are doing great. 

UPDATE - 22MAY17 - Benjamin and Chhiring achieved the summit of Everest on 22MAY17 at 0825hrs local Everest.  They have descending to Camp 3 and are resting over night before continuing downward.   Benjamin now joins two other combat wounded warriors (purple heart recipients ) as the 3rd Purple Heart Climber to stand on top of the world.