Mick and Annette Lexa enjoy the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Philly. Photo Christopher DiVirgilio
For Mick and Annette Lexa, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games has turned into a wonderful bonding experience
This 34th NVWG in Philadelphia is the couple’s fourth together. You could say it’s brought their marriage even closer.
A Navy veteran, Mick has loves the Games’ camaraderie and spirit. He’s participated in them for at least 15 years since he was injured in 1979 after falling down a ladder on an aircraft carrier. When the urge hits, Mick heads to the Games.
They mean plenty to him. Not only do they allow him to let his competitive juices flow, like Thursday night during his wheelchair basketball game. But he’s also developed everlasting friendships with wheelchair athletes from the United States, Great Britain and Puerto Rico.
“[The Games] gave me the motivation to keep on pressing on in life,” said the pony-tailed 54-year-old. “All my achievements that I’ve got [and] accomplished over the years have been because of the Games.”
Then, there’s Annette – always smiling, always supportive and encouraging Mick since they met in college at Arizona State University. They now live in Green Bay, Wis. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 15 years old and now in a wheelchair, Annette, now at 41, has continued to push through battles herself.
“I’m proud to be 41,” she said. “It took me a long time and a lot of trials and tribulations.”
But Annette might like the Games even more. It’s a chance to see her husband excel at sports, like on Wednesday when he won gold medals in shot put and discus and earned a silver in javelin.
“It’s more exciting I think. It’s great to see him out there because he could’ve given up and he didn’t,” says Annette. “It’s good to see him. I laugh. I cry.”
She enjoys the whole Games experience.
“I get to root for everybody, not just him,” Annette said. “And that’s what’s fun.”
MEDAL UPDATE: As of 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, there was a tie atop the NVWG team medal leader board for the overall leader. VISN 4: VA Healthcare – VISN 4 and VISN 8: VA Sunshine Healthcare Network each had totaled 47 medals apiece. VA Healthcare – VISN 4 had 36 gold, seven silver and four bronze, while VA Sunshine Healthcare Network had earned 22 gold, 16 silver and nine bronze. VISN 12: VA Great Lakes Healthcare System was third with 45 medals (18 gold, 16 silver and 11 bronze).