A group of about 16 Navy SEALS may be retired from active duty, but are still serving their country and its people, having accepted a new mission as members of the nonprofit group Beyond the Teams.
The team is set to paddle a six-person ocean outrigger canoe from Key West to the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce. They’ll leave Key West on Monday, May 24 and will stop each night in places throughout the Florida Keys and South Florida, where restaurants and other venues will host meet-and-greet fundraising events.
A kickoff event will take place Sunday, May 23 from 5 to 9 p.m. at La Trattoria Oceanside on South Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West.
The second night’s event will take place at Boondocks. Then the team will stop at the Elks Lodge in Marathon on Tuesday, May 25 and at the Caribbean Club in Key Largo on Wednesday, May 26.
Each event will feature a silent auction, raffles and 50/50s as well as a merchandise table to benefit the Navy SEAL Museum and its support services for veterans, said Mel Veazey, the wife of a retired SEAL, who has helped organize this year’s event in the Florida Keys.
“Each evening’s event is free to attend and all are welcome,” Veazey said, adding that special table seating for six can be reserved for a $300 donation.
Visit beyondtheteams.org for specific venue information.
Retired SEAL Mike Charbonnet started Beyond the Teams — named for the various SEAL Teams that undertake dangerous, classified and live-saving missions around the world (does SEAL Team 6 sound familiar?) — for SEAL life after active duty.
“Beyond the Teams is a group of former Navy SEALs who have teamed up to undertake a new kind of mission,” said Charbonnet, whose son, also a SEAL, became paralyzed from the waist down during a parachuting accident and needed neurological rehabilitation at a clinic in San Diego.
“VIP Neuro Rehabilitation Clinic doesn’t accept insurance because they don’t want to have to turn away someone who’s not insured, so all their funding comes from donations, grants and fundraisers,” said Charbonnet. The clinic was the recipient of the first Beyond the Teams epic fundraiser in 2019, when the team embarked on a 1,000-mile bike ride from Virginia Beach to the museum in Fort Pierce.
“Members of Beyond the Teams conduct fund-raising events for organizations and causes that help people with physical disabilities, cultural disadvantages and practical needs going unmet because they are the ‘little guys,” the organization’s website states.
“We have guys coming in from Hawaii, Houston, California and other places for this paddle event,” Charbonnet said. “We’re excited and are so appreciative of the support we’ve received from the Keys military and civilian communities.”