On Veterans Day, we celebrate the brave military forces that sacrifice their lives for the people of their country. Injuries and disability are part of the risk that many members of the Armed Forces take on in exchange for their loyalty. These veterans, despite their changed physicality, have many unique sports competitions and championships that Americans may not be immediately aware of.
Veterans have the unique support of Americans
This year, the voting is still open at Pepsi's RefreshEverything.com website. At the top of the voter's favorites for 2011 is the Kentucky Veteran and Patriots Center in Wickliffe. Last year, the website provided a helpful platform for raising 250K for disabled veteran's sports programs. Specifically, the focus was on spinal cord injuries.
Certainly a unique fundraiser, the website visitors have chosen to place veterans as one of the most important causes across the nation. Since they are well funded by the public and government, this has placed veterans in a position of having extraordinary means of athletic competitiveness.
Current engineers in veteran's adaptive sports
As we are all aware, disabled veterans often return from the battlefield with missing limbs and impaired abilities. Commonly termed as adaptive sports, you will find many forms of this athletic variation on veterans administration websites in the U.S.
However, most of the latest advances in adaptive technology comes from the Wounded Heroes Fund. This grant has been placed with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). The focus of the RIC is unique in that they specify physical therapy in the field of sports and recreation. Most of their technology is developed by asking disabled veterans to join their testing.
Some of their accomplishments relate to hallmark projects in adaptive sports history. For example, wheelchairs for playing baseball, artificial limbs that can endure track and field use, and golfing equipment designed for those with limited mobility.
Specific Paralympic sports
Bowls, torball, blokarting, and orienteering are just a few of the odd terms associated with this unique group of athletes. Commonplace at worldwide Paralympic events, these adaptive sports contain their own sets of rules in many cases and often have a history only in the disability community.
For instance, sitting volleyball is only for amputees and wheelchair basketball has different definitions of a foul. On the other hand, adaptive sports like bowls have similar rules to non-adaptive bowls and lesser known boules games like bocce and pétanque.
Disabled veteran adaptive sports championships
In the U.S. the paramount disability championship for the military is the Annual Warrior Games. The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic Military Program in Colorado Springs. This event includes shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.
However, Russia takes adaptive sport Olympics for their veterans in a whole new direction. With representation in winter and summer sports, their teams participate all over the world in over 20 sporting events. Outside of the veteran world, the US Paralympics appeals to all persons using adaptive technology and includes 27 sports according to disability groups.
The government places unique focus on adaptive sports
On October 5, the U.S. House Committee on Veteran's Affairs published an update that included continued support of the Paralympics program. Currently funding 70 programs, they want to increase that number to 100 in the next year. Generally, this committee is busy making sure veterans are employed and have benefits. Despite this, there is a unique focus at this committee to fully embrace the current adaptive sports movement.
Overwhelmingly, they want an Olympic spirit among the veteran population and see the participation in the Paralympics by veterans as a sign of the program's success. To get started, wounded warriors can join over 200 clubs in the U.S. and find one locally at findaclub.usparalympics.org.
Beginner's amateur adaptive sports
If you are excited about the possibility of adaptive sports, you do not need to be a veteran to get started. Instead, you can reach out to AdaptiveSports.org or the AdaptiveSportsFoundation.org. There, you will find events and opportunities in your local community. In the end, you will have the help you need to show off the same unique chic that so many champions in the adaptive sports ring have.