Teamwork, Loyalty, Perseverance, Courage, and Resilience – these are the five tenants of VETSports. They look awfully similar to the core values we all learned in our respective services and this is likely no coincidence, since VETSports founders Brian Taylor Urreula and Randy Tharp are Army and OIF veterans. Tharp, who serves as President and CEO of VETSports, is a distinguished former sniper, who was injured by an IED in Ramadi in 2007. While awaiting discharge, Tharp served as the NCOIC of the Wounded Warrior Games at Walter Reed, where he discovered the value of adaptive sports. Urreula, Vice President and COO of VETSports, is also an IED survivor and an amputee. While deployed to Iraq in 2006 and just two days shy of the final “wake up” of his deployment, Urreula’s vehicle hit a roadside bomb, killing his commanding officer and wounding him and several other members of his unit. After enduring 35 painful and unsuccessful surgeries, Urreula finally made the decision to amputate his right leg. Both physically active individuals, the two co-founded VETSports in August of 2012.
VETSports is a non-profit designed to help injured veterans through “adaptive sports, physical activity and teamwork.” Through softball, volleyball, mudruns, golf, and volunteer efforts, VETSports helps veterans build confidence and a positive outlook, as well as achieve physical fitness. They have regional coordinators in Florida, Michigan, Washington, D.C., California, and Mississippi and recently expanded their softball teams to include San Antonio, TX, and San Diego, CA. Their teams are fully-funded, so participation is at no cost to veterans, and teams generally compete against other teams made up of first-responders. Monies raised from the events are used for charitable purposes, such as providing for the surviving family members of Urreula’s commanding officer and donations to organizations that help children with disabilities.
If you’re interested in participating, you can fill out a short contact form on their webpage and a member of their team will contact you. All veterans with injuries or disabilities are welcome to participate; there is no minimum disability rating or talent level required – all who wish to play, can. If playing sports isn’t your thing but you still want to get involved, VETSports is looking for representatives to help them organize sports leagues, including “softball, flag football, and soccer,” and individuals willing to volunteer in other capacities. And, since it is a non-profit, donations are always welcome.
To learn more about VETSports or to get involved, go to: http://vetsports.org/
© 2013, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.