Wounded warriors participate in sports minicamp

  • Published
  • By Capt. George Tobias
  • Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
A small group of Air Force wounded warriors attended an adaptive sports wounded warrior minicamp Nov. 3 to 6 at the Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

During the minicamp, 15 veteran and new athletes practiced wheelchair basketball, strength and conditioning, sitting volleyball and marksmanship at the OTC as well as an equestrian warrior wellness program at the Air Force Academy.

The goal of the camp is to introduce wounded warriors to the possibilities of different sports and activities, said Col. David Anderson, the Air Force Services Agency director of programs in San Antonio, Texas.

On the importance of the camp, Anderson noted it builds confidence and camaraderie amongst the athletes; retired Staff Sgt. Kevin Taylor echoed that sentiment.

"The best thing is to meet random people across the country and get to know their stories and become part of a team," said Taylor, who was medically retired due to a traumatic brain injury. Taylor is hoping to earn a spot on the 2012 Air Force Warrior Games team.

A newcomer to the program, Senior Airman Michael Malarsie, who is assigned to the 59th Patient Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was accompanied by his guide dog, Xxon, and described the camp as therapeutic and relaxing.

"To try something that you thought was impossible, and be able to do it, is really therapeutic," said Malarsie, who was blinded by an improvised explosive device blast while deployed in Afghanistan.

A common theme expressed by the athletes was a sense of community with their fellow wounded warriors and a realization that they are not alone nor isolated.

"I would like for others to know their lives aren't done just because they're injured," Taylor said.

Learn more about the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program at http://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil, or call 800-581-9437.