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March 31, 2014
Earlier this month I was privileged to be part of a free, public event hosted by Booz Allen Hamilton, “What’s the Next Play”, that reminded me of the enormous strength and resilience of our wounded servicemen and women. The discussion re-energized a commitment I made last year when I first participated in World Team Sports’ Face of America Ride - to spread the word about the enormous benefits adaptive sports offer veterans and their families as they recover.
At “What’s the Next Play?” a panel of experts outlined the many ways that adaptive sports can be game-changers for injured veterans. Among the panelists was Dr. Barbara Springer, a physical therapist and Director of Ride 2 Recovery’s Project HERO (Healing Exercise Rehabilitation Opportunity). Springer discussed the enormous gains made over the past several years in the field of rehabilitative sports, saying, “I can’t think of a sport that has not been adapted so that it can be played by injured vets.” Across the country, wounded veterans are distinguishing themselves as athletes in sports as diverse as skiing, wheelchair lacrosse, sled hockey and cycling.
Vietnam Veteran Ernie Butler, who is now the Director of Sports and Recreation for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, became a paraplegic as a result of a 1995 parachute accident. Before his accident he was a world-class skydiver. Butler said, “My first question after my injury was, ‘where do I go from here?’ I wanted to know that I could enjoy my life again. Why do you want to go back to school or work if you feel like you can’t have fun in your life anymore? Sports rehab brings that fun back.”
U.S. Army Garrison Commander Col. Gregory Gadson, injured in the line of duty in 2007, agreed, saying, “Adaptive sports are absolutely instrumental in recovery. Many times we focus on the physical aspects of sports, but the mental and emotional support you get by being able to reinvent yourself through rehabilitative sports is invaluable.” Gadson emphasized the need for communities to support veterans through a lifelong rehabilitation. That support can take many forms – from training and hiring injured vets to participating in events like World T.E.A.M Sports’ Face of America Ride.
From April 25-27 I will join 500 other cyclists to ride 110 miles, from Arlington, VA to Gettysburg, PA, for the Face of America Ride. Around 60 participants in the grueling ride will be servicemen and women who are recovering from traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Funds raised by teams prior to the ride will help provide wounded warriors an opportunity to participate in this and future World T.E.A.M. Sports events.
The ride, a moving tribute to veterans of the Afghan and Iraq wars, has become one of my favorite ways to show my support. I invite my Booz Allen colleagues and others interested in supporting this terrific effort to join me by raising funds and participating in the ride of a lifetime! To register or donate, click here.