More than 600 wheelchair athletes are getting a helping hand with necessary wheelchair repairs this week from Invacare—the longest running sponsor of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG).
Invacare, which has been sponsoring the NVWG since its inception in 1981, is operating a main repair center in the Tampa Convention Center as well as some remote repair centers in other areas, all to help athletes make essential repairs to their wheelchairs, such as changes to tires, tubes, pumps or brakes.
“When you have 600 wheelchair athletes attend these events, you’re going to have a lot of usage and some things happen,” said Stuart Cohen, national government and federal account manager at Invacare. “Our main goal is that every athlete is able to participate in their event in their mobility product.”
Cohen said the first few days of the NVWG are usually the busiest, particularly as athletes request repairs on wheelchairs that may have been damaged during air travel. “Some of the chairs fell off of the belts, and we had to play MacGyver to put them back together,” he said.
A team of 10 to 12 Invacare associates also are on hand throughout the week to help athletes with any other necessary repairs or upkeep, including tightening brakes or changing motors, controllers or electronics. The company normally runs the repair centers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day but can accommodate emergency repairs outside of those hours, Cohen said.
Invacare has been providing a wheelchair repair clinic since the very first NVWG. Typically, the company makes repairs to roughly 200 to 300 wheelchairs throughout the week , Cohen said.
“Invacare’s true tag line is making life experiences possible,” Cohen said. “One of our main goals is being here and helping the veteran athletes make life experiences possible with our products and services.”
Learn more about the 33rd 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.