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Warrior Games begin in Colorado

Army Sgt. First Class Doug Franklin of the Army Special Operations Command team passes the Olympic torch to retired Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus, who is a gold medal Paralympian, during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 28, 2014. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

Army Sgt. First Class Doug Franklin of the Army Special Operations Command team passes the Olympic torch to retired Marine Cpl. Paul Schaus, who is a gold medal Paralympian, during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Warrior Games at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sept. 28, 2014. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) -- The 2014 Warrior Games, bringing together more than 200 wounded, ill or injured U.S. service members and veterans opened here Sept. 28, with a senior Defense Department official lauding all those competing as an inspiration to everyone who wears the uniform.

“Through these games we celebrate athletes -- the warriors -- and we recognize your service and your accomplishments and we applaud them,” said Jessica L. Garfola Wright, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness as she opened the six days of games.

The competition includes seven sports -- archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

“Athletes, I will tell you -- you inspire me,” Wright said. “And you inspire your fellow service members, and your families and your friends. Americans everywhere, she said, will use one word and that’s just awesome. You are awesome.”

Wright said she was honored to represent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel who she said sent his best wishes to all the athletes.

“Your courage, your strength and your perseverance -- it is awesome,” she said. “Thank you for your service in uniform to the United States of America. Thank you for your sustained excellence in the face of adversity.”

Wright said the warrior-athletes had so much to be proud of and “it just simply gave me chills to see you march in” to the opening ceremony.

The undersecretary also expressed her gratitude to the families and friends of the competitors.

“It comes down to the support you give them. The support, the love, the motivation that you give them to get them through the very hard times that they have.”

Wright also thanked the U.S. Olympic Committee for its commitment to the athletes, and specifically, Charlie Huebner, the vice president of paralympic development for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation.

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