CINCINNATI – Those who fought for our country now have the chance to fight for something a little different.
The 37th National Veterans Wheelchair Games kicked off Monday. The six-day event is happening for the first time in the Queen City,
“It's huge! It's like bringing the regular Olympics to Cincinnati,” said Todd Sledge, Chief of Communications for the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games gives vets the chance to do what some may have thought impossible.
Rory Cooper, who competes and coaches athletes, says it’s about more than winning medals.
“For me, it's just the camaraderie - to help and train some of the younger guys and to expose to the American public what veterans can achieve,” Cooper said.
Cooper served in the Army and started competing in the games in 1983.
“You'll see some amazing athletes here. You get a chance to see how well our veterans do, how well the VA takes care of them,” Cooper said.
Every year, the VA and Paralyzed Veterans of America put on the wheelchair games for vets who have suffered spinal cord injuries, amputations or other mobility impairments.
“We just love it,” said Ernie Butler, games director. “This is our life.”
Butler has been working three years to prepare the city and help organize the games.
“Every time you get to the end of the road and the start of the games, it makes every one of the visits and all the planning so worthwhile,” Butler said.
To kick off the games, Cooper and other athletes took a practice run through the slalom course at Fountain Square. They went over ramps, weaved through cones, even rolled over steps.
More than 600 athletes are participating.
SEE the schedule, results and more information at http://wheelchairgames.org/