One of the largest wheelchair sporting events is taking place right here in Richmond. Hundreds of athletes are in town to compete.
Another special thing about them; they're all veterans.
This is slalom. It's a sport many people may have not seen before. But it's one of the 17 events featured at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Richmond.
This is one of several sports Jeff DeLeon is competing in. Thirteen years ago a car accident changed this U.S. Navy airman's life.
"The seatbelt broke my back leaving me a T-6 paraplegic," he said.
Another slalom competitor and former paralympian, Laura Shwanger is up for the challenge. While serving in the U.S. Army she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
"I found adaptive sports, wheelchair sports and it gave me a reason to get up in the morning," she said.
They are just two of the 600 athletes that will compete throughout the week. It's one of the largest wheelchair sports competitions in the world.
The kick off ceremony at the State Capitol building shows the support that many athletes and volunteers say is overwhelming.
"You have camaraderie because we all have a disability and you have camaraderie because we all served in the military," Shwanger said.
The games are part of the rehabilitation process.
"This is so important in terms of the recovery phase and building up strength and endurance and the spirit to move forward," says Darlene Edwards with Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.
For the athletes that have been in their wheelchairs for years, they just hope to serve as an inspiration.
"I honestly feel I was picked to be put in this position," says DeLeon.
The games go until June 29th. The sporting events will take place around Richmond. You can check the schedule of events on their website.
It's free for all those who want to watch.
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