Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whitworth to host swimming portion of National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Whitworth University Aquatics Center will be overflowing with activity when roughly 50 veterans from across the world take to the water to compete in the swimming portion of the 29th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which will take place in Spokane July 13-18.

Nearly 600 veterans from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Great Britain, including 18 from the Pacific Northwest, are expected to compete in the games this year. Presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), the games are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. The Spokane VA Medical Center and PVA's Northwest Chapter are hosting the games.

The public is invited to attend all of the events free of charge. For a complete list, visit http://www.wheelchairgames.va.gov/.

The swimming competition at Whitworth will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15. More than 100 volunteers will be on hand to help run the event.

"These athletes are amazing," says Matthew Allen, public affairs specialist at the Spokane VA Medical Center. "When you see a quadriplegic veteran working himself down the swimming lane with nothing but sheer will, it brings tears to your eyes."

The games will include 17 events: track, swimming, field, basketball, weightlifting, softball, quad rugby, air guns, 9-ball, bowling, table tennis, archery, hand-cycling, trapshooting, a motorized rally, power soccer, and wheelchair slalom, which is a timed obstacle course. Athletes compete in all events against others with similar athletic ability, competitive experience or age.

The kick-off event for the games will take place Monday, July 13, at 11:30 a.m., in the Convention Center breezeway, and will include a preview of wheelchair basketball. The public is also invited to attend the opening ceremonies, which will be held at 6 p.m. in Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

The week also will include a Kids' Day on Friday, July 17, when local children with disabilities will be able to interact with the athletes, participate in sports events and watch veterans compete.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Matthew Allen, public affairs specialist, Spokane VA Medical Center, (509) 434-7000 ext. 6205 or Matthew.allen2@va.gov.

Gary Kessie, assistant director for community programs, Whitworth University Aquatics Center, (509) 777-4246, gkessie@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.