Get to the Games
By Charles Brown
On June 11, I passed the 35th anniversary of my injury.
I became injured at the young age of 20, and I have always been a very active person. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). Well, I’ll tell you.
After my injury, I moved away from a small north Georgia town to my hometown of St. Louis to become active in adaptive sports. After a few years, I attended my first National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) in Dayton, Ohio, in 1992. This move was the turning point for me and my involvement with PVA.
The NVWG has been the introduction to PVA for many veterans. For me, it was the kickstart to being active in giving back to veterans with spinal-cord injury or disease (SCI/D).
During the closing banquet that year, then-Gateway Chapter PVA President Gene Crayton came over to me and challenged me to step up and serve my fellow veterans. I had mild success with sports, but I was looking for something to help expand my activity level and improve my life.
The biggest reason I’m writing about this now is that the 40th NVWG is being held in New York City Aug. 7–14. This year will be a hybrid version, giving veterans the option to compete at home or in person.
The NVWG will be in Manhattan for the second time in its history. The last time the Games were in New York City was 2001, just before our nation went through one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in our history. It’s time for us to return to New York as our country comes out of another tragic situation — the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We, as veterans, can gather together and show our skills and strengths in this year’s Games and let our nation know that we continue to fight through adversity and will never let anything keep us down. I know it has been challenging these last 18 months, but our never-quit attitude is more contagious than any virus.
Sports and PVA have gone hand-in-hand for as long as we have been an organization, and it will never end.
When PVA was first forming in the mid-1940s, the U.S. veterans returning from war with spinal-cord injuries started playing wheelchair basketball and showed this same never-quit attitude. They never let an injury or difficult situation keep them from fulfilling a more active life.
PVA offers many sports opportunities throughout the year, and I’m asking you to look to your local PVA chapter or sports organizations to stay active, enjoy your life and have a more fulfilling quality of life.
The NVWG started in Richmond, Va., in 1981, and since 1985, PVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have partnered to build the Games into a weeklong event of competition and camaraderie.
This partnership is not unlike another between PVA and the VA. Look for my next column with more details about how PVA and the VA continually work together to improve the quality of life for veterans.