TAMPA, Fla. – Athlete registration is now open and about 3,000 volunteers are needed for the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world. More than 500 Veterans from across the United States, Puerto Rico and Great Britain are expected to compete in the Games, taking place in Tampa July 13 to 18.
The Games are presented by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This year, they are co-sponsored by the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital and the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. The Games are open to all U.S. military Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments.
Volunteers are needed the entire week of the games in all event areas including setting up equipment at venues where the competitions are held, serving meals, monitoring buses used to transport athletes to various locations, serving as “Fans in the Stands,” (cheering the athletes on), and other duties. “We’re excited to see the National Veterans Wheelchair Games return to Florida and feel especially privileged we were chosen to host them here in Tampa Bay alongside our Paralyzed Veterans of America Gulf Coast partners, said Kathleen Fogarty, JAHVH hospital director. “Adaptive sports provide a vital role in continuing a seriously injured Veterans’ rehabilitation through formidable competition that’s just plain fun. And Tampa is a world class sports venue to showcase the country’s best wheelchair athletes for an entire week. To help us do that, we will need the help of thousands of volunteers,” she said.
Eighteen different competitive events and two exhibition events will take place at the Tampa Convention Center, Tampa Bay Times Forum, Raymond James Stadium, Lake Seminole Park, Hillsborough Community College (Dale Mabry campus), Silver Dollar Shooters Club, Pin Chasers, Jefferson High School and the Clearwater Long Center.
Veterans interested in competing may download the registration packet from the Games’ website at www.wheelchairgames.va.gov or contact Lesli Culver at [email protected] The deadline for interested athletes to complete and postmark their registration is April 15.
Volunteers, who can be as young as 14 to participate, must be willing to commit to a minimum of a four-hour shift on the days they volunteer. Besides the experience of participating in the Games, volunteers will also receive a commemorative T-shirt. High school students who volunteer can earn community service credit towards their college application.
Anyone interested must complete a Volunteer Application available at www.wheelchairgames.va.gov and return it via e-mail to [email protected] The applications can also be dropped off in person at the Voluntary Service Office, Room 2A-215L, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, 13000 Bruce B. Downs, Blvd., in Tampa. For more information, contact Camilla Thompson, Tampa Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected] or call (813)-972-2000, ext. 6580. The deadline for volunteer registration is June 13th.
The public is invited to attend any of the sports competitions throughout the week of the Games, and admission is free. To learn more about the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and the Wheelchair Games, visit http://www.tampa.va.gov/
Release courtesy of U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs – Office of Communications.