The U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Department of Defense, USO, and Ride for Recovery sponsor the Warrior Games which open in Colorado Springs on May 10. The Games will be held all week at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, United States Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and Memorial Park.
Wounded, injured and ill service men and women with amputations, spinal cord injuries, post traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injuries, including those with cerebral palsy and stroke are eligible to participate. This first-time joint effort by Department of Defense and U.S. Olympic Committee aims to capitalize on physical fitness, enhance recovery, and promote opportunities for accomplishment among the 200 soldiers who have been chosen proportionally from the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. Admission to the week-long event is open to the public.
This initiative is part of a year-old athletic reconditioning program, the Wounded Warrior Regiment. Charlie Huebner, Chief of Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee, notes that among the important outcomes of Paralympics is the progress athletes experience, not just in their sport, but in their lives. “We see the power of healing through sport every single day,” Huebner adds.
Athletes are participating in one or more of seven sports: archery, cycling, basketball, shooting, swimming, volleyball and track and field. The relationship between the military and athletics is a long-standing one. The Army established the World Class Athlete Program in 1948 at its Fort Carson Colorado base, taking advantage of its proximity to the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Since then thousands of soldier-athletes have competed in the Olympics; over 500 have won more than 130 Olympic medals, according to an article published in the online edition of Military Money .
PRI’s The World radio show reported on May 7, 2010 that the organizers hope not only to sponsor Warrior Games annually, but want to integrate this initiative into soldiers’ individual communities, making programming available to enhance their rehabilitative environment. Huebner said they may also reach out to the international community for participation in subsequent years.
Many wounded soldiers are treated and rehabilitated at Craig Hospital in Denver, known as a world-class center for those with spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Spalding Rehabilitation Center, also located in Denver, offers treatments for brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and stroke.
For more information about sports and logistics, contact Laura Ryan at U.S. Paralympics.