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Local Disabled Athletes Head to Omaha for 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games

July 15, 2008

HOUSTON, TEXAS – Three local wheelchair athletes are heading to Omaha, Nebraska, to compete in the 28th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, July 25 - 29, 2008. 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, 47, an Army Veteran from Katy; David King, 57, a Coast Guard Veteran from West Columbia and Evo Marini, 63, an Air Force Veteran from Bailey’s Prairie.

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), are open to all U.S. military Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. 

The VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System in Omaha and the Paralyzed Veterans of America Great Plains Chapter are hosting the 2008 Games.  Veterans competing in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games come from nearly every state as well as Puerto Rico and Great Britain.

“Like serving our nation, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are not really about the medals.  Instead, they're a mix of camaraderie, competition and courage.  And they're rehabilitation at its best for our paralyzed Veterans," said Randy L. Pleva, Sr., National President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.    

At the Games, Veterans will compete in swimming, basketball, track, weightlifting, softball, air guns, quad rugby, nine-ball, field events, bowling, table tennis, archery, handcycling, wheelchair slalom, trapshooting, a motorized wheelchair relay and power soccer.  An exhibition event in sled hockey will also take place this year.  For the second year, several stand-up events will be held for athletes with amputations who choose to compete using prosthetic devices instead of competing in their wheelchairs.

“We are proud to present this outstanding rehabilitation event, a therapeutic extension of the superior heath care Veterans receive in our medical centers each day,” said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.  “Rehabilitation is crucial to living a full life following an injury.  I applaud all of the Veterans participating as they strive to achieve their goals during this week of athletic competition.”

“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.

"It's so great when people with disabilities can compete and feel that joy of victory," said King, who is competing in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games for the second time.

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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