Army Veteran Chris Fidler is excited that the 31st National Veterans Wheelchair Games will take place in Pittsburgh this August. As a board member of Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America — a Games co-host, along with VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System — he's helped prepare for and promote the Games. He's also a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan and can’t wait to meet some of the Steelers and Penguins players who will be making guest appearances during the week.
Fidler, 50, has competed in every Games except two in the last 10 years, winning at least two dozen medals. This year, the Jonestown, Pa., resident will compete in the air rifle, shot-put, javelin and discus events, as well as his favorite sport — archery.
"You have to practice. It's not something you can just pick up and do," Fidler says. "Archery is a lot of hard work, but the challenge makes it interesting."
To prepare for the Games, he's practiced shooting with an air rifle in local events and trained for the archery in his yard. He shot his best archery score ever at last year’s competition and is hoping to top that this time around.
Outside of the Games, Fidler regularly competes in air rifle competitions all over the country. In 2007, he placed seventh nationally in the National Rifle Association's Beeman Grand Prix. This spring, he claimed third and second place in the Buckeye National 600 shoot and the Hillside Rehab Hospital 600 shoot, respectively.
"The competition is nice, but I like just being with other disabled Veterans and the camaraderie. You always make new friends, and you always get to meet your old friends from Games past. It almost seems like a family," Fidler says. "It seems that the Games draws the most wonderful, patriotic people! That makes the whole week an awesome adventure!"
Learn more about the 31st Games at www.wheelchairgames.va.gov.