With more than 600 athletes attending the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Tampa in July—along with coaches, families, friends, and other visitors—the economy of the host city will get a boost.
The Games are copresented annually by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This year’s event takes place July 13–18, with local hosts the Paralyzed Veterans Florida Gulf Coast Chapter and James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital.
During the week of the Games, Tampa is expected to realize occupancy in more than 6,000 hotel room nights and an estimated impact of $3.7 million in direct spending, said Jason Aughey, senior director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC).
The commission began collaborating with the local hosts more than two years ago on a proposal to host the Games. Beyond the projected economic impact for Tampa was the desire to work with and help veterans with disabilities, Aughey said.
“We feel like we’ve been there every step of the way to work with the leadership and the VA here in Tampa to plan and execute a fist-class event and create a memorable experience for all attendees,” he said.
The TBSC also is working through traditional media and social media to raise awareness. Thousands in the community have been inspired to offer their support and volunteer. With roughly 3,000 volunteer shifts required, according to Aughey as of late June nearly 2,900 of the shifts had been filled.
“That speaks volumes about our community’s willingness to rally around special events like this,” he said.
Learn more about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Tampa
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.