This week a group of inspirational Veterans are focusing on their abilities instead of their disabilities and making history in Richmond, Va.
Between June 25 and 30, the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games returns to the city where it began back in 1981.
Wheelchair athletes from across the United States, Puerto Rico and Great Britain will compete in the weeklong event. The Games showcase athletic events including air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, track & field, hand cycling, motorized rally, nine-ball, quad rugby, power soccer, softball, swimming, table tennis, trapshooting, weightlifting and slalom.
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) is proud to be a national host sponsor for this year's Games. After co-hosting the 2011 Games with the Keystone Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America, VAPHS and many local Veterans were excited to continue the momentum of last year's successful event.
With a little nudge from his physical therapist, Air Force Veteran Mark Rosensteel took advantage of having the Games in his own backyard last year. "I didn't know what I was getting into," says the 52-year-old Apollo, Pa., resident. "I didn't expect to win any medals."
However, Rosensteel surprised himself by winning three gold medals and one silver medal as a novice wheelchair athlete. So it's no surprise that he couldn't wait for this week's Games in Richmond.
"Mark has jumped into adaptive sports full force since last year's Games," says Chad Evans, Rosensteel's VAPHS physical therapist. This week he will compete in slalom, motor rally, bowling, track, and – new this year – air guns.
His participation in last year's Games in Pittsburgh opened Rosensteel's eyes to a whole new world, which he urges other Veteran wheelchair users to check out.
"Just go out there and do it," Rosensteel says. "What are you waiting for? Once you get your feet wet, you'll have no problems."
VAPHS wishes the best of luck to all of this year's athletes, especially the Veterans listed below who are representing Pittsburgh in this year's competition:
For more on this year's Games, including photos, medal counts and daily newsletters, visit www.wheelchairgames.va.gov.