More than 600 disabled veteran athletes will compete in a variety of sport competitions at the 31st National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Pittsburgh, Aug. 1st through the 6th. The event is presented each year by officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
"The National Veterans Wheelchair Games feature some of the most competitive and accomplished wheelchair athletes in the world," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
Athletes will compete in 17 different sports, including air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, field events, handcycling, nine-ball, a motorized wheelchair relay, power soccer, quad rugby, softball, swimming, table tennis, track, trapshooting, weightlifting and wheelchair slalom.
The weeklong event will be webcast at www.wheelchairgames.va.gov.
Highlights for Aug. 1 include the 2011 Disabled Sports, Recreation and Fitness Expo, plus the games kick-off and an opening ceremony. Jessica Lynch, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and former POW, will attend to meet with the athletes.
The kick-off takes features a slalom exhibition in which wheelchair athletes maneuver around and through difficult obstacles. The opening ceremony takes place in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center with the lighting of the Games torch to mark the official start of the games.
Other highlights include Kids Day on Aug. 5 where local children with disabilities will meet the athletes and learn about wheelchair sports.
Officials with the Keystone Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System are hosting the 2011 Games.
For more information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, visit the games website at:www.wheelchairgames.va.gov.
Scoba F. Rhodes Jr. traveled to Pittsburgh this week from Long Beach, Calif. The 45-year-old Navy Veteran says he heard about the Games “from doctors, Paralyzed Veterans members, recreational therapists—basically you have to be living under a rock to not hear about the Games.”
This is the second year of my injury. During my first year, I was not physically strong enough, and I was still very unsure of myself. I was still very emotionally down and had no real desire to go. But my condition improved, both physically and emotionally, which I can attribute to my wife, Sonia; my family; my physical therapists; my counselor; and my primary care doctor.
When I arrived at the VA hospital from the county hospital where the operation [that led to my injury] took place, I was in seriously bad condition. I was dangerously low on blood, covered with bedsores and barely conscious. During my first night, I had to receive eight units of blood…. With the proper medical and surgical care, and advice from the VA nutritionist, my body became stronger, my sores completely healed, and I was eventually able to head out into the public.
However, long trips were a bit too much for me to handle. It took my physical therapists to really start to work with me and get me stronger. Now, I think I am able to make the trip. This is still a test for me, however. I hope I do well.
I am entered in the nine-ball, ping-pong and air gun events. I chose these events because they were something I was pretty good at before my injury. I have been training all year, practicing billiards down the street from my house, and working out two days a week at the VA hospital, and the other days with barbells at home.
What I have gotten out of this experience is something that I want to say to all fellow injured Veterans everywhere: Attempt not, my friends, to weather the storm, but rather, learn to dance in the rain!
American Forces Press Service is the official press service of the Department of Defense.