Sun Life Financial Sponsors All-Star Handcycle Team's Record-Setting Quest in 3000-Mile Race Across AmericaWellesley, MA (May 20, 2009) - The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) is sponsoring an all-star handcycle team comprised of four of the world's top disabled athletes trying to set a new record in the Race Across America (RAAM), beginning June 20 in Oceanside, CA. The relay team will race 24 hours a day in hopes of becoming the first handcylists to complete the 3,000-mile bicycle race in the nine days allotted to able-bodied teams. Sun Life's donation to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) will support the team's goals of completing the race and inspiring members of the disabled community through extreme challenges.
RAAM, which crosses America and ends in Annapolis, MD, is open to individuals and teams, and this year celebrates its 28th run. The all-star team, called Team Can Be Venture, is led by Sun Life Project Manager Patrick Doak and composed of the following accomplished disabled athletes:
- Patrick Doak (Project Manager, Concord, MA) was injured in a shooting accident when he was only 10 years old. A bone fragment from his spinal column traumatizing his spinal cord left him partially paralyzed. Not letting his disability hold him back, Patrick has successfully completed four Ironman World Championships, coming in second place in the wheelchair division in 2004 and 2007. He also holds numerous top 10 finishes in marathons, half Ironman competitions and road races across the country.
- Carlos Moleda (Retired US Navy Seal, Bluffton, SC) grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil and joined the Navy when he moved to the United States at age 18. He lost feeling to his lower body when injured during an intense firefight in Panama. Carlos is a winner of the 367-mile Sadlers Ultra Challenge handcycle race in Alaska, a two-time National Handcycling Champion and four-time Hawaii Ironman Champion where he holds the world record for the physically challenged division.
- Hannes Koeppen (Retired Biologist, Germany) is considered by many to be the strongest Handcycle Ironman in the cycling discipline. Injured in a car accident in 1986 while training for his first triathlon, he continues to compete. In 2007 he captured the Ironman World Championship title in the handcycle division. Most recently Hannes finished first in his category at 2008 Ironman Malaysia, which is known to be one of the toughest triathlons in the world because of the extreme heat and humidity.
- Vico Merklein (Athlete, Germany) was active in sports, even before he became a paraplegic after a motorcycle accident at age 20. Vico has won numerous road racing competitions worldwide and is the holder of several course records. He was also a member of the handcyclist group that set the current world record in the marathon distance (1 hour, 5 minutes, 35 seconds) in 2007.
Team Can Be Venture's training for this feat has included 10 to 15 hours of cycling a week, sprint training, nonstop indoor cycling sessions of eight to 48 hours, and participation in Bike Sebring, a 24-hour race in February in Sebring, FL during which they biked all day and night. Learn more about Team Can Be Venture and follow the team's blog throughout the race at www.teamcanbeventure.com.
"We've competed in some of the world's toughest races, but Team Can Be Venture is particularly excited about the challenge that lies ahead of us," said Doak. "We believe we can make RAAM history, and are indebted to the support from Sun Life and the Challenged Athletes Foundation."
About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate clients. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2009, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $297.5 billion.
Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF. Visit Sun Life Financial's website at www.sunlife-usa.com.
About Challenged Athletes Foundation
CAF grew out of a desire to assist one athlete paralyzed in a triathlon. From this modest beginning arose a more important mission - to make sure people with physical challenges have the same freedom to enjoy sports as everyone else. CAF believes that participation in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.
Since 1994, more than $21 million has been raised and more than 4,000 funding requests from challenged athletes in all 50 states and dozens of countries have been satisfied. Additionally, CAF's outreach efforts touch another 65,000 individuals each year. Whether it's a $2,000 grant for a handcycle, helping underwrite an Ossur carbon fiber running foot (not covered by insurance), or arranging enthusiastic encouragement from a mentor who has triumphed over a similar challenge, CAF's mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, athletic lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love. To learn more, log on to www.challengedathletes.org or call 858-866-0959.
Sun Life Financial
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