By Blair Drake, MOAA Contributing Editor
Each summer, hundreds of veterans with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, amputations, and other neurological injuries come together to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. The games, presented by the VA and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, aim to “empower veterans to live more active and healthy lives through wheelchair sports and recreation,” according to the event website.
The games travel each year to a new location, where veterans from across the U.S. compete in 19 events. Louisville recently hosted the 39th annual event, and approximately 3,000 local volunteers were on hand to help, including Lt. Col. Karl Truman, USA (Ret), a member of the Louisville Chapter of MOAA.
Truman learned about the games while attending an open house at the Kentucky-Indiana Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When I saw what these veterans are doing and how it’s changed their lives, I said, ‘This is something I have to go all in on,’” he says.
Truman helped promote awareness about the games, which featured more than 700 athletes, by assisting with television ads and presenting to local organizations. He also sponsored team shirts for the Kentucky-Indiana Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and assisted during the games with award presentation ceremonies.
He describes the experience as emotional and inspiring. “I get chills just thinking about it,” he says.
“It was so exciting to see and feel the energy, camaraderie, and competiveness. These veterans don’t let their disabilities hold them back. Their determination of overcoming obstacles was uplifting to be around.”