As the 31st National Veterans Wheelchair Games came to a close in Pittsburgh, preparations had already begun for next year’s Games, to be held in Richmond, VA, the site of the inaugural Games in 1981. The 32nd Games will be held June 25–30, 2012.
“We’re very excited to bring the Games back to Richmond—where it all began nearly 32 years ago,” said Charlie Hayden, sports director for the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America, and also one of the original participants in the 1981 Games. “The Games have grown tremendously since then, and we look forward to seeing that growth continue as we host the 2012 National Veterans Wheelchair Games.”
Richmond’s first National Veterans Wheelchair Games hosted 74 veterans from 14 states competing in sports that included table tennis, billiards, swimming and weightlifting. Those first Games established an enduring trait that has characterized the event ever since—a strong sense of common identity and camaraderie among the participants.
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are presented annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America, and are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition as a result of spinal cord injury, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. The Richmond VA Medical Center and Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter Paralyzed Veterans of America will host the 2012 Games.
Veterans at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games compete in 17 events: swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, archery, air guns, basketball, nine ball, softball, quad rugby, bowling, handcycling, wheelchair slalom, power soccer, a motorized wheelchair rally, track and field and trapshooting. Athletes compete in all events against others with similar athletic ability, competitive experience or age. For more information about the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, please check for updates at www.wheelchairgames.va.gov or www.pva.org/Games.