Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Disabled veterans compete in 13th annual wheelchair sports tournament.


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They are all winners and they all still believe in the Army slogan "Be all that you can be."

And that's why more than 500 disabled war veterans came to San Antonio, Texas, to compete in the 13th National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

The annual sports event is open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injury, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other impairments. Most of the veterans were injured while serving in the military.

The annual sports event was sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Jesse Brown, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, said, "We know that participation in sports activities such as this not only contributes to better physical health, but improves the overall quality of life of our veterans." Brown added, "The VA recreation therapy program is a key element in the medical care and rehabilitation of veterans in our VA hospitals, and I believe this event serves as a showcase of what that therapy can do."

Athletes came from all over the U.S., Puerto Rico and Great Britain to compete in track and field, basketball, weightlifting, swimming, bowling, table tennis, rugby and archery.

The disabled veterans competed in the sports with the same zest, courage, spirit and enthusiasm that made them brave soldiers for this country.

Vietnam War veteran Kater Cornwell is a world-class athlete in weightlifting. The three-time world champion in weightlifting has benched pressed 425 pounds, but he has lifted 460 pounds. A paraplegic, he was shot in Vietnam and later developed a viral infection that resulted in his paralysis.

"You can reap a harvest from being out here competing in sports and recreation," Cornwell told JET. "It gives veterans and any person with a disability an opportunity to still be the best that they can be."

Cornwell serves as a role model for other disabled veterans and encourages them to believe that they can still achieve despite their disability. "I don't see myself in a wheelchair, just with a wheelchair. You see, the chair comes with me, I don't come with the chair. In other words, look at me as a person, not a person with a disability." The war veterans do not feel sorry for themselves and are not seeking public sympathy. They just want acceptance.

"What has happened, has happened," explained Cornwell "The circumstances are already there. I'm in charge of the circumstances in my life."

Hope Cooper Freeman, 37, is paralyzed from the waist down. She won the Wheelchair Games' top honor, "Spirit of the Games Award" for her spirit, enthusiasm, determination as a disabled veteran and competitive swimmer.

She sees herself as a positive, motivating role model for abled and disabled people. "I want others to know just because we're in wheelchairs, just because we're Black, we can still overcome obstacles and disable our disabilities." She hopes to "help those children who are fortunate to walk, to light a flame in their hearts. When they see me in a wheelchair achieving, they can look at themselves and say |if she can do it, I know I can do it.'"

Source Citation
"Disabled veterans compete in 13th annual wheelchair sports tournament." Jet 20 Sept. 1993: 34+. General OneFile. Web. 7 Sept. 2010.
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Gale Document Number:A14437633

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