Warfighter Sports is a branch of Disabled Sports USA, one of the largest adaptive sports organizations in the country, and has been serving disabled veterans since 1967. The organization is led by Executive Director (and head cheerleader), Kirk Bauer, who has held that position for 31 years. Bauer isn’t just some executive in an office, though. He is a Vietnam Veteran, who discovered Disabled Sports USA at the age of 21 while recovering from the loss of his leg in a grenade blast. Bauer accepted the position as Executive Director after being involved as a participant and a volunteer for 13 years and he continues to lead from the front, including leading a team of all amputee veterans to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in 2010.
With “If I can do this, I can do anything” as their motto, Disabled Sports USA is specifically focused on providing sports rehabilitation to severely injured veterans with a permanent disability, such as an amputation, spinal cord injury, severe nerve and muscle damage, visual impairment, or TBI. They offer sports year-round, with about 150 events in 30 different categories available. All expenses involved in participation, including transportation, lodging, meals, adaptive equipment, instruction, and event fees are covered by the program, resulting in no cost for the veteran and his/her family member.
Looking at the winter calendar, upcoming events range from an open water dive in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a “Wounded Warrior Snowfest” in Massachusetts, to a “Paralympic Athlete Development Camp” in Utah. You can find the full winter schedule here: http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Military-Programs-Winter-13-14.pdf.
To get connected to the closest chapter, fill out the online application, which asks for your basic personal information, disability details, military/employment information, and sports interests. If you’d prefer to volunteer or donate monetarily or through your air miles, you can also do that from their “Get Involved” page. If you just want to get more information on the events or what is going on in the world of adaptive sports, you can also subscribe to their newsletter or blog, or read the latest edition of “Challenge Magazine.”
Warfighter Sports has its own website – www.warfightersports.org – but I found more updated information on its parent organization’s website at: http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/programs/warfighter-sports/. You can also follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/DisabledSportsUSA and find out such great information as the deadline for the 2014 Access for Athletes Grant, which is a grant to help pay for adaptive sports expenses, has been extended until Dec 6, and read inspiring stories, such as that of quadruple amputee Army SSgt Travis Mills. You can also follow them on Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
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