JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- --
Athletes from around the world will come together in Toronto to compete in the 2017 Invictus Games, uniting more than 550 wounded, ill or injured military service members from 17 nations to compete in 12 unique sporting events.
The games are scheduled to commence Sept. 23, 2017, and will continue through Sept. 30. All competitors will be either active duty or veterans who became ill or injured during, or as a direct result of service.
Consistent with the official Invictus Games website, this will be the third iteration of competition, and highlights this as the first time Ukraine and Romania will participate. This year’s events will include archery, athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.
Additionally, the 2017 games will introduce golf, and a demonstration match of sledge hockey, as well as the first-ever Invictus Games relay, which coordinators state will help ignite the Invictus Games spirit across all 32 Canadian military bases and neighboring communities.
Britain's Prince Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014, naming them after the poem, "Invictus," written by William Earnest Henley nearly 150 years ago, which he felt encapsulated the spirit of the games and the athletes' determination.
Approximately 80 wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans will represent the U.S. team, with 18 of these athletes comprising Team Air Force.
Team members are:
Retired Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Bias
Retired Master Sgt. Kyle Burnett
Tech. Sgt. Jason Caswell
Staff Sgt. Vincent Cavazos
Retired Master Sgt. Amy Dotson
Retired Master Sgt. Adam Faine
Maj. Cal Gentry
Retired Master Sgt. Jesse Graham
Retired Master Sgt. Reese Hines
Retired Capt. Mitch Kieffer
Retired Staff Sgt. Sebastiana Lopez-Arellano
Master Sgt. Lara Mastel
Retired Tech. Sgt. Aimi Mlekoday
Retired Tech. Sgt. Adam Popp
Retired Senior Airman Lucas Purser
Master Sgt. Ben Seekell
Master Sgt. Brian Williams
Capt. Christy Wise
Additionally, two other Airmen will represent the Department of Defense as members of Team U.S. Special Operations Command:
Tech. Sgt. Curtis Krenzke
Retired Tech. Sgt. Patrick Roberts
“These games and the entire adaptive sports concept are small examples of how the Air Force provides a full-spectrum of care and recovery for Airmen and families who continue to make incredible sacrifices for our nation,” said Capt. Christy Wise, 79th Rescue Squadron pilot and Team Air Force captain. “This team, Air Force and U.S., is comprised of some of the most fiercely competitive and determined athletes around – injury or not. Our plan is to represent our nation to the best of our ability and ideally come out victorious in as many events as possible – we all want to bring back some ‘gold’ with us to the states.”
More than 6,300 wounded warriors, their families and caregivers are supported by the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, or AFW2, which is functionally aligned under the Air Force Warrior and Survivor Care Division and operationally managed by the Air Force Personnel Center.
Warrior Caregiver Support, Adaptive Sports, Recovery Care Coordinator and Employment Readiness, also known as CARE, events are offered to all wounded, ill, or injured Air Force service members and authorized caregivers. The Adaptive and Rehabilitative Sports aspect provides opportunities for recovering service members to develop independence, confidence and fitness through sports - empowering wounded warriors to focus on their abilities and teaching positive coping techniques.