Tony Johnson was ready to give up on life when his leg was amputated after an accident a few years ago.
Now Johnson, an Army Veteran from Albuquerque, has a more positive view on life, thanks to the VA physicians and case workers who have worked with him. Johnson is the winner of this year’s Michael Rosenberg Athletic Award, a $1,000 grant given to a first-time athlete to help cover expenses for the Games.
“Tony has had a difficult life of traumaboth in the military and in civilian life, yet to be around this young man, you would never know,” said Janet Escobedo, Johnson’s coach and a recreation therapist at Albuquerque’s Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center. Escobedo nominated the Veteran for the award.
“Tony devotes himself to cheering up patients in the spinal cord injury center, playing cards with them and spreading cheer, joy and hope amid the fear and pain,” she added.
For Johnson, going to the Games is “an opportunity to regain my life and a chance for a new beginning.” His events this week include discus, javelin, softball and the motorized wheelchair rally.
If you know of a Veteran who would like to compete in next year’s Games, consider nominating him or her for the Rosenberg Award. Veterans are eligibleif they receive care at a VA facility, need financial assistance and are first-time participants. They must exhibit contagious enthusiasm and have a proven record of therapeutic performance in sports and their rehabilitation process.
Harold McGinnis, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System