Sarah Brandle of Johnstown, PA competed in her First NVWG Kids Day in Pittsburgh last year and was very excited to compete again in Richmond. Unlike most of her competitors, Sarah, who has hemi hypertrophy, a condition in which one side of the body is larger than the other, only uses her wheelchair to compete in sports. 9 year old Sarah walks most of the time and has one shoe with a lift, but using the chair makes it easier for her to participate in athletics. Sarah "has her challenges, but not the challenges that the other kids do" says mom, Tricia Monahan.
Her father Patrick Monahan, an Air Force Veteran who served in Afghanistan, says Sarah loves being a part of Kids Day and seeing the other kids compete. Since Sarah doesn't use a wheelchair full-time, she finds her competitors are often more skilled in these events, but he says the competition is good for her.
Sarah brought her Mom, Dad, sister Alyssa, and her American Girl doll Samantha (also in a wheelchair) with her to Kids Day. She enjoys the Wheelchair Slalom best. "Going over the carpet is the hardest," Sarah says. "My favorite part of all this is meeting new people."
Six children from the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth Uuniversity (VCU) competed in Kids Day. These children are among the most physically and cognitively able residents of the long-term transitional care unit at Children’s Hospital. Competing in an event like this “is a self-esteem booster” says Recreation Therapy Manager Vernita Jones, CTRS. Kids Day “gives them the ability to see others in the community that function well with their disabilities and lets them know they too have a functional part in the community.”
Holly Koester, an Army Veteran from Cleveland, Ohio is competing in her 21st NVWG. She will take part in several events this week including air-rifles, 9 ball, swimming, and hand cycle. For her, “being a mentor on Kids Day is one of the best things all week. Seeing their eyes light up when the finish the obstacle course is awesome!”