In July, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America, a veterans service organization, hosted their 37th annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Cincinnati for more than 600 disabled participants.
The five-day event included 19 adaptive sporting events for veterans of various ability levels, some of which included archery, swimming, table tennis, hand cycling and others.
“[T]he Games serve to encourage veterans to become aware of their abilities and potential while promoting a spirit of healthy activity and camaraderie,” according to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games website.
Included in the event is the opportunity for disabled veterans to be exposed to the nationwide sporting activities that are available to them year round. More than 50 organizations from across the country attend the wheelchair games and display their products and services for participants.
Coupled with this year’s event was a vast social media presence, including the trending hashtag #NVWG, a live stream of the competitions and active engagement from friends and family in attendance.
“The unprecedented level and scale of social media interest in the Games this year will also increase the likelihood that a newly paralyzed veteran lying in his home or her hospital bed somewhere will see the coverage and realize there is life after injury,” Sherman Gillums, Jr., Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Director and U.S. Marine veteran, said in a press release.
In addition, the event requires the help of more than 3,000 volunteers to host the games every year. From participant transportation to meal and event set-up, volunteers make the annual event possible with help from many corporate sponsors, as well.
Paralyzed Veterans of America hosts smaller sporting events year-round for veterans. The organization also helps veterans find adequate health care and contributes to research and education that addresses spinal cord injuries.