Disabled veteran athletes now have access to a new social network to connect with fellow veteran athletes and learn about adaptive sports clinics, camps and events in their area.
FootStomp.com, which launched in May at the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, is a new niche social network that enables warrior athletes, family members, coaches and advocates to reconnect with friends made at camps and clinics, download pictures and videos of events and share event information with the community.
“Earlier this year, we found that a lot of athletes were having trouble keeping in touch with each other and wanted another way to reach people they went to camps or clinics with and to learn about events going on they could participate in,” said Todd Weiler, CEO of FootStomp.com.
The name of the website came from Weiler’s service as a helicopter pilot in the Army, where platform instructors would stomp their foot to alert students of important information that may be on an upcoming test. “Stomping their foot was a sign that you better listen up because the next thing you hear is going to be very important,” he said. “That’s why we called it FootStomp.”
The website has since grown to 500 members, a number Weiler says he hopes will double by the end of the 2014 Warrior Games in May. Membership traffic on the website at any one time is at or above 5 percent – a positive figure according to social media standards, Weiler said.
Going forward, the goal of FootStomp is to work with Paralyzed Veterans of America to help broaden the outreach to the veteran and active military community and advertise events and feature stories promoting the organization, athletes and coaches. The FootStomp team also plans to cover Paralyzed Veterans of America sports events to take and share photos and information across the FootStomp community, Weiler said.
The hope in the near future is for FootStomp to feature more testimonials about how adaptive sports has helped veterans reintegrate back into the community and improve their quality of life – messages that are powerful in ensuring continued funding for adaptive sports programs.
“Ultimately, these programs require money, and we want DoD and VA to be able to go to Congress and show that these programs really do have an impact,” Weiler said. “FootStomp is a place for veterans to share those testimonials and have it in one place, as opposed to responding to the data calls they’ll periodically receive.”
The FootStomp team in late November also is preparing to launch a new mobile app that will enable users to map functions on their smartphones with GPS to find out about events in their area. A forthcoming section of the website called Equipment World will feature videos, vignettes and tutorials about adaptive sports equipment as well as instructions on how to obtain equipment through government and nonprofit programs.
“Members can use the site as they like,” Weiler said. “We have everything from photos and videos to events to interesting articles, and it’s all information related to this community and our mutual interests. Invite others to join because the more people we get on, the more we build the community.”
Learn more about Footstomp.com
Read about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s adaptive sports programs
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.