The world’s largest annual wheelchair competition is underway in Tampa, FL with over 660 American veterans taking place in a variety of athletic events including weightlifting, basketball, table tennis, quad rugby and swimming. The event was designed to showcase the life-long rehabilitation and recovery efforts of American soldiers who suffer from spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, amputations and other mobility impairments.
The competition changes cities each year and Tampa was awarded the games after the 2012 competition in Richmond, VA. What began as a simple rehabilitation program stoked the competitive nature of these wounded warriors who began to test one another with friendly contests. Those games among friends turned into the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and this year’s slogan is “Seize the Day in Tampa Bay”. Part of the Department for Veterans Affairs, the wheelchair games honor the mission statement from former President Abraham Lincoln promise, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are American’s veterans.
The 33rd annual Wheelchair Games began on July 6th and will run through July 18th. Organizers believe the combination of the 4th of July with an event celebrating the amazing achievements of wounded veterans is a great way to draw attention to often forgotten service men and women. One participant, Davis Celestine, who suffered an injury while training with the Navy Seals in 2001 before deploying to Afghanistan, remarked, “It is mind blowing when you see someone is doing something you’ve never tried. It gives me inspiration to go out and try it on my own”. Celestine is hoping to break a world record in the military press by going for 235 pounds.
To keep track of the exciting competition visit the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
HDS MEDALLION® wishes all of the contestants good luck and we thank you for your service.