Local Veterans Compete in National Wheelchair Games
HOUSTON – Three local, wheelchair athletes brought home coveted gold, silver, and bronze medals from the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games held in Denver, Colorado in July. These athletes all receive their health care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).
Veterans from the MEDVAMC have participated in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games since 1981.
Competing under the team name “Texas Blasters,” Timothy Jones, 26, a Navy Veteran from Magnolia; David Fowler, 49, an Army Veteran from Katy; and Derrick Perkins, 46, an Air Force Veteran from Sugar Land were an unbeatable force.
I enjoyed attending the games, meeting new friends, and running into old ones. The level of competition was higher than I expected, which meant that I had to step up my game,” said Jones, who won three gold, one silver, and one bronze medals. “I am looking forward to returning next year.”
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 Texas Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America sponsored 23 wheelchair athletes this year,” said Fowler, Chapter President.
PVA was founded 63 years ago. For more than six decades, the organization and its 34 chapters have been working to create an America where all Veterans, people with disabilities, and their families have everything they need to thrive.
At the Games, Veterans competed in 17 different sports including air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, field events, handcycling, nine-ball, a motorized wheelchair relay, power soccer, quad rugby, softball, swimming, table tennis, track, trapshooting, weightlifting, and wheelchair slalom. An exhibition event in kayaking was also featured this year.
“The National Veterans Wheelchair Games give our disabled Veterans the opportunity to enjoy rigorous athletic competition, plus have some fun,” said Adam C. Walmus, M.H.A., M.A., F.A.C.H.E., MEDVAMC director. “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.”
Sports are important in the rehabilitation therapy used to treat many disabilities. For many injured Veterans, the Wheelchair Games provide their first exposure to wheelchair athletics. VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitative and recreational therapies, and operates more than 1,400 sites of care, including 153 medical centers.
The VA Pittsburgh Health Care System and the Keystone Chapter of PVA will host the 2011 Games. For more information about the Games and qualifications to compete next year, visit www.wheelchairgames.va.gov