Kyle Kienitz Hero Story

Kyle Kientz at Kids Day at the 2012 National Veterans Wheelchair Games
More photos from the 32nd NVWG
Kyle Kienitz has regrets—primarily that he did not play wheelchair basketball before now.

Serving in the Marine Corps from 2002 to 2004, Kyle spent his time stateside. When he was injured in December of 2003, he wasn’t sure what to do with his life. At his sixth National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) in Richmond, VA, Kienitz participated in weightlifting, track and field, bowling and handcycling. But on Tuesday evening of the 32nd NVWG, he found his new love.

“That was the first real game I’ve ever played,” Kienitz said after his team scored a dominating victory in wheelchair basketball. “I regret every minute of wating so long to play. Basketball was always my favorite sport to play. I guess I was just so stubborn. I knew wheelchair basketball was a bit of a different sport. It felt great to be out there, though.”

Kienitz said that he now believes he will concentrate on wheelchair basketball as his main sport. He had been scrimmaging with a team from Rockford, Ill., but is now living in Appleton, Wis. He hopes to connect with a team from Green Bay.

He said physical activity is important for mental aspects. Along with his participation in adaptive sports, he has earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in marketing and business, respectively, which he has put to use in his involvement with the nonprofit foundation “Oscar Mike,” founded by a friend and fellow veteran. Kienitz heads up the sales and marketing for the business side and is the board chairman of the foundation.

The combination business/foundation is designed to provide gainful employment to veterans, produce military- and veteran-themed apparel using only American-made supplies and ultimately assist injured veterans in achieving their physical rehabilitative goals.

Kienitz has big plans for the new business and foundation—and big plans for pursuing his new love of wheelchair basketball.

More about the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Tim W. Jackson is a freelance writer and editor in Asheville, N.C.

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