"Events like the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are a not only a good time for vets to get together and compete," commented veteran disability attorney James Fausone, "They are also great opportunity to show the public how capable and active so many disabled vets are. We are still facing an uphill battle when it comes to disabled veterans and underemployment, and in seeing them fully integrated in the media when it comes to civilian life."
Athletes are placed in competition in the events ranked with those of similar athletic abilities, age and/or competition experience. Events include archery, air guns, field events, bowling, basketball, hand-cycling, power soccer, slalom, quad rugby, swimming, softball, track, weightlifting and more. The Games are overseen by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs, funded in part by civic and corporate sponsors as well as veteran service organizations. The Games are also backed by more than 3,000 local volunteers, many of whom return every year to assist in everything from transportation assistance to ticket taking, water distribution, meals and crowd control.
In tandem with the National Veterans Wheelchair Games was the annual Kids Day event. Now in its 14th year, the Kids Day event offers local children with physical disabilities the opportunity to try adaptive sports activities. Kids Day is designed to promote active and fun activities as well as teamwork and determination to children with physical disabilities. Participating children are traditionally presenting with participating medals by veteran athlete mentors at the conclusion of the Kids Day events.
The Games first began in 1981 in the Tampa, Florida area. Thousands of disabled veterans have participated over the past 33 years in the events designed to support sports, competition and camaraderie among the nation's military.