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Houston Wheelchair Athletes Head to Milwaukee for 27th National Veterans Wheelchair Games

June 5, 2007

HOUSTON, TEXAS - Three local wheelchair athletes are heading to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to compete in the 27th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, June 19-23, 2007. The athletes are all disabled veterans who receive their health care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in Houston, Texas.

Veterans from the MEDVAMC have participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games since 1981.  The local veterans, competing under the team name “Texas Blasters,” in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games this year include David Fowler, 46, an Army veteran from Katy; David King, 56, a Coast Guard veteran from West Columbia and Gregory Joyce, 51, an Air Force veteran from The Woodlands.

These National Veterans Wheelchair Games are presented each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).  It is the largest annual wheelchair sports event of its kind in the world, with more than 500 veterans from across the United States, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Great Britain registered for the competitions in Wisconsin.  The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America are hosting the 2007 Games.

Beginning June 22, individual news releases, photos, and competition results for all competitors will be available on the Games web site at www.wheelchairgames.org *.  (Please visit the “Athlete Information” page.)

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, neurological illnesses, amputations or other mobility impairments.  For the first time at the Games, a demonstration track event will be held for athletes who are able to stand using prosthetic devices.

“The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are a chance for disabled veterans, who receive the benefits of VA’s world-class health care, to share in the camaraderie of friendly competition,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “The determination, stamina and competitive spirit on display at the Games are an inspiration.”

“The National Veterans Wheelchair Games give our disabled veterans the opportunity to enjoy rigorous athletic competition. Every year, these heroes demonstrate their talent, stamina, and determination at this outstanding event, the same qualities they exhibited when helping preserve our nation’s freedom” said Edgar L. Tucker, MEDVAMC director.

“Our association with the National Veterans Wheelchair Games helps fulfill our promise of improving the quality of life for veterans with disabilities,” said Randy L. Pleva, Sr., national president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When the wheelchair athletes assemble in Milwaukee, the intensity of competition will be exceeded only by the fellowship of veterans united together.”

Previous Games have produced national and world-class champions, but perhaps more importantly, the Games provide opportunities for newly disabled veterans to compete athletically and meet other wheelchair athletes.

“This will be my first experience at the Wheelchair Games,” said King.  “I can only imagine how much fun this is going to be.  I am really looking forward to meeting the volunteers, making new friends and spending time with old ones.  The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are responsible for helping many veterans get back to being involved and doing for themselves again.  For this, VA and PVA deserve credit.”

At the Games, veterans will compete in track and field, swimming, basketball, weightlifting, softball, air guns, quad rugby, 9-ball, bowling, table tennis, archery, handcycling, a motorized rally, wheelchair slalom, a power wheelchair relay and power soccer. Trap shooting and wheelchair curling will be exhibition events this year.

Sports are important in the therapy used to treat many disabilities. VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitation, with therapy programs available at VA health care facilities across the nation. For many injured veterans, the Wheelchair Games provide their first exposure to wheelchair athletics.

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For more information about local veterans competing in the 2007 National Veterans Wheelchair Games, visit the Games web site at www.wheelchairgames.org *. Media inquiries may be directed to Kim Byers, VA Public Affairs, at (734) 761-7824; or David Uchic, PVA Communications, at (202) 416-7667.

* This link will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site and will open in a new window. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of linked Web sites.