Bryce Winters gets ready for Kids Day during the 35th Annual NVWG. Photo Christopher DiVirgilio
Department of Veterans Affairs secretary participates in Kids Day at NVWG
Usually, Bryce Winters doesn’t like pictures.
But Tuesday afternoon, the 9-year-old wanted to pose for as many as he could – especially showing off his muscles at the 35th National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) Kids’ Day in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
“These ones were fun – because they were with my friends, cheerleaders, new friends,” says Winters, who has spina bifida and lives in Burleson, Texas.
Winters, along with other children, bonded with wheelchair veterans, participating in events including basketball, softball and an obstacle course. When they finished, parents, veterans, cheerleaders and Paralyzed Veterans of America staff formed a human tunnel for them to wheel through and cheer their success.
Another big name also joined them Tuesday. This time, it was Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald, who like Evander Holyfield the day before, attended his first NVWG.
McDonald posed for pictures, watched Kids’ Day, along with wheelchair softball, power soccer and wheelchair rugby events.
McDonald was impressed after seeing the veterans interact with children in wheelchairs.
“[I learned] the power of this event to help the veterans physically but also to help them spiritually by realizing they can do a lot more,” McDonald says.
McDonald says he’ll participate in the slalom, a wheelchair obstacle course, on Wednesday.
“I think it’s tougher than the obstacle course I had to do at West Point to graduate,” McDonald says.
McDonald wasn’t the only person to check out Kids Day for the first time. Army veteran Twila Adams participated in her first Kids Day. It will not be her last.
A Charlotte, N.C., resident, Adams, 56, is attending the NVWG for the eighth time – and finally could volunteer for Kids Day. Adams, who served in the Army from 1980-1991 in transportation management, loved helping children in the events and thought it was awesome.
“To see their faces light up, to hear some of them say ‘well, I can’t do that’ and for all of us to rally around and say ‘just try, we got you’ and watch them succeed, it’s amazing,” says Adams, who sustained a C4/C5 injury in a car accident in 1994 in Charlotte and is an incomplete quadriplegic.
Army veteran Dan Rose liked Kids Day so much last year, he volunteered to help out again. Rose, 30, served as a combat engineer from 2003-11. He sustained a T4 injury from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on April 27, 2011.
Rose likes Kids Day because it lets them show the children there’s a whole world of adaptive sports out there and they try to help give them that initial push to compete.
“[I like] just seeing the kids kind of get comfortable with the crowd and everything around and just to see them enjoying themselves and just kind of getting lost in the sport or activity,” says Rose, from Madison, Wis. “It’s awesome just to see them having fun. It’s impossible not to have a good time when you’re doing it with them.”
For more information, visit Wheelchair Games online.