The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are a multi-event sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological problems.
Attracting more than 500 athletes each year, the games, being held this year in Tampa, Florida from July 13-18, are the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world.
In 2012, Veteran Pete Moore from Boston participated in one of the toughest competitions wheelchairs can offer — the slalom. Read his story of the challenges faced every day by Veterans in wheelchairs.
The presenters of this event are committed to improving the quality of life for Veterans with disabilities and fostering better health through sports competition.
While past games have produced a number of national and world-class champions, the games also provide opportunities for newly-disabled Veterans to gain sports skills and be exposed to other wheelchair athletes. Typically, one quarter of the competitors have never participated in any type of organized wheelchair sports competition.
Phillip Rosenberg received a Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam. Another chapter in a family of heroes, his father and three uncles had served in World War II. He’s been at the games since 1982.
The games are presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America with financial assistance from corporate, civic and Veteran service organizations.
The hosts this year are the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa and the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Competitive events at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games include air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, field events, handcycling, a motorized wheelchair rally, nine-ball, power soccer, quad rugby, slalom, softball, swimming, table tennis, track, trapshooting and weightlifting.
The games are made possible by great volunteers like Peg Holliday who has been volunteering to help Veterans since 1942. Last year, she drove a bus every day to get Veterans to their events.
Athletes compete in all events against others with similar athletic ability, competitive experience or age.