Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Volunteers are needed for National Veterans Wheelchair Games


How do you prepare for the world's largest annual wheelchair competition?

"Our team started working two years ago," said Jeanene LeSure, local host coordinator at James A. Haley VA Medical Center.

But now, time is short.

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games, here in Tampa for the first time, will be July 13-18. The event will bring more than 500 veterans to compete in events such as quad rugby, javelin, swimming, basketball, handcycling and table tennis.

"In the competitions, veterans push themselves beyond what they do in the therapeutic environment," said LeSure, who is also a recreational therapist at Haley. "It shows them what they can do, and they no longer focus on what they can't."

To pull it off, many volunteers are still needed. Recruiters are halfway to the goal of 3,000 volunteers.

This week, Danielle Hester, a voluntary service specialist at Haley, set up a table at a job fair at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. She handed out about 100 applications and told those passing by how they could help.

They could greet veterans at the airport and hotels and help with luggage, she told them. Volunteers will drive veterans to games and help others get on and off buses. They will help announce games, keep score and time events. They will sell food and hand out water.

The competing veterans use wheelchairs because of spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, amputations and other mobility impairments.

The games started as a way for veterans to focus on their abilities and work on rehabilitation through competition.

It's the second time the event has been in Florida since it began in 1981. In 1985 the Paralyzed Veterans of America joined the Department of Veterans Affairs as co-sponsors for the games.

Veterans will compete in 18 competitive events and two exhibition events. Local hosts picked the exhibition events for this year — tennis and adaptive water skiing, the latter a nod to Tampa's proximity to water.

Events will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Raymond James Stadium, Lake Seminole Park, Hillsborough Community College, Silver Dollar Shooters Club, Pin Chasers, Jefferson High School, the Clearwater Long Center, the Riverwalk and the Tampa Convention Center, where competitions, ceremonies and the expo will be held.

City officials anticipate more than 2,000 visitors to Tampa for the event.

Volunteers must be at least 14 and sign up for a four-hour shift between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. The games are free and the public is welcome to celebrate the veterans serving as what organizers call "fans in the stands."

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at or (813) 226-3431.

To volunteer

Find an application at and return it via email to or call (813) 972-2000 ext. 6580.

Volunteers are needed for National Veterans Wheelchair Games 06/13/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO


    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  2. What to watch this week: Fall TV kicks off with 'Will & Grace,' 'Young Sheldon,' return of 'This Is Us'


    September temperatures are still creeping into the 90s, but fall officially started a few days ago. And with that designation comes the avalanche of new and returning TV shows. The Big Bang Theory fans get a double dose of Sheldon Cooper's nerdisms with the return of the titular series for an eleventh season and …

    Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally in Will & Grace.
  3. Eight refueling jets from Arkansas, 250 people heading to new home at MacDill


    TAMPA — The number of KC-135 refueling jets at MacDill Air Force Base will grow from 18 to 24 with the return of a squadron that once called Tampa home.

    A KC-135 Stratotanker, a military aerial refueling jet, undergoes maintenance at MacDill Air Force Base. The planes, many flying since the late 1950s, are now being flown more than twice as much as scheduled because of ongoing foreign conflicts. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Bucs couldn't connect on or stop deep passes in loss to Vikings


    If two things were established as storylines entering Sunday's Bucs-Vikings game, it was that Tampa Bay was still struggling to establish the deep passes that were missing from its offense last year, and that …

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) gets into the end zone for a long touchdown reception as Bucs free safety Chris Conte (23) cannot stop him during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Alejandro Villanueva, Steelers player and Army vet who stood alone, now has the NFL's top-selling jersey


    CHICAGO — When the national anthem started at Soldier Field on Sunday, the visiting sideline was mostly empty. The most prominent evidence of the Pittsburgh Steelers was offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, standing all by himself near the tunnel, holding his right hand over his heart.

    Alejandro Villanueva stands alone during the national anthem at Soldier Field in Chicago. [Associated Press]