PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After service and sacrifice, adaptive sports offer hope and healing. Heidi Frawley has seen firsthand how life-changing these games can be following life-changing trauma.
“Often individuals when they have had a huge trauma in their life have depression and feelings of ‘How am I going to move on?’ Wheelchair games, adaptive sports, it allows the individual to realize they can still go out and do things,” said Frawley, an operative care nurse at the VA. “The games offer so many different sports, for so many different styles of injury, they can still be very functional and have a great time.”
Next summer, Frawley will help organize thousands of volunteers for the 42nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Local organizing chair Shaun Benson said this is the first time Portland will host the games, July 4-9, 2023.
“This is the largest veteran-focused wheelchair game competition in the world,” Benson told KOIN 6 News. ” Just in terms of what the NVWG will be hosting, we have both individual events and team events that will be part of the NVWG. Some of the team events include wheelchair basketball, rugby, soccer, but in addition to that many of the individual events will include various swimming events, archery, air pistol, bocce. It goes on and on.”
Most competitions will happen at the Oregon Convention Center. There are plans to hold events around Portland metro, and potential venues include Portland International Raceway, KingPins Beaverton, Mount Hood Community College, the Oregon Zoo and Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Hundreds of athletes are expected to “be coming from every state in the country as well as Puerto Rico sends a team, and Great Britain sends a team,” Benson said.
Organizers need help. A lot of it. They’re looking for volunteers for everything from greeting teams at the airport to help with crowds and competitions.
“We’ll train anybody that wants to volunteer,” he said. “There are numerous opportunities, so if you’re interested, sign up and we will find a spot for you.”
Organizers hope Oregonians will spend part of their Independence Day supporting those who fought for freedom.
“Even as a spectator and a volunteer, it’s life-changing watching these men and women who’ve given so much be able to compete,” he said.
Heidi Frawley put it succinctly.
“You walk away with far more than you give.”