Itâ€™s hard to believe that the 2013 Valor Games Midwest is just about two months away! This is an event the entire World Sport Chicago staff looks forward to each summer and preparations are in full swing as we get ready to host hundreds of veterans and service members with disabilities this August.
I really enjoy Valor Games Midwest because it strikes right at the heart of the WSC mission â€“ using sport to improve the quality of life for under-served individuals.
One of my favorite stories from last year is that of Jeanine, an Army veteran who lives here in Chicago. I was attending a resource fair at the Jesse Brown VA one day in the spring and Janine stopped by our table to learn about adaptive sport opportunities for veterans.
We introduced Janine to the year-round archery and cycling programs hosted by the Rehab Institute of Chicago and let her know about the upcoming Valor Games. Janine has been using a wheelchair for several years and had never heard about adaptive sports. It turned out to be a life-changing day for her.
The next week, Janine was out at Northerly Island trying a handcycle (adaptive bike for someone who can only use his or her arms) and quickly got involved in archery, as well. She registered for the Valor Games Midwest and began preparing for the August competition.
Janineâ€™s return to participating in sports completely changed her life. She realized her disability didnâ€™t have to hold her back from living an active life and that with these barriers lifted, it also showed her that she didnâ€™t have limitations from accomplishing any goal she had in mind.
Janineâ€™s story is not unique. So many of the athletes that participate in Valor Games Midwest have a similar experience, and WSC, in partnership with U.S. Paralympics, Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Chicago Park District, is so thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity to Midwest veterans.