National Veterans Sports Programs - Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VAMC
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Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VAMC

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National Veterans Sports Programs

Philadelphia Veteran Athletes

Veteran and wheelchair atheletes. From left to right: Robert Duncan, Mason Symons, James Lewis, PVAMC Recreational Therapist Julia Fries, Arthur Wimberly, Eugene Tatom, PVAMC Recreational Therapist Bethany Purdue, Bruce Husted, Laura Schwanger, and Doris Merrill.

By Mary Dillinger
Monday, July 15, 2013

Veterans from Philadelphia VA Medical Center attend these events throughout the country, preparing for them with great determination and lots of workout time. 

These events include the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, the National Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, and the National Veterans Golden Age Games.  In 2012, eight Veteran athletes from Philadelphia participated in the events which resulted in our Veterans bringing home 22 medals; 11 gold, seven silver, and four bronze. 

The benefits of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are indescribable, said Julia Fries, a recreational therapist at the Philadelphia VAMC. 

“The athleticism, determination, and sportsmanship are incredible, and there is an instant camaraderie among the Veterans,” Fries said.  “This is an event that shows Veterans what they can do, and is focused on ability, rather than disability.  The Veterans leave the NVWG with new resources and support networks.  They feel hopeful and excited to pursue sports and wellness.”

Fries explained that these programs encourage involvement in adaptive sports at the local and national level, as well as promote good health and a sense of community throughout the year for participants of all skill levels.  The staff is constantly recruiting Veterans, working with local Veterans to prepare and bring home medals! 

Bethany Purdue, a recreational therapist at the facility, noted that the National Veterans Wheelchair Games gives Veterans an opportunity to learn and compete in 17 different adaptive sports.

“It is a week dedicated to challenging themselves, overcoming obstacles and gaining self confidence,” Purdue said.  “It provides our Veterans with a pathway to a healthier, more active lifestyle all year round.” Story by Mary Dillinger

According to recreation therapist Mary Jane Faulkes-Perelman, the National Veterans Winter Sports Clinic is a week of challenges; learning adapted skiing and snowboarding and many other events.

“Disabilities become abilities and you are inspired by the Veterans that have had similar life experiences,” said Faulkes-Perelman.  “It’s awesome!  Everyone needs to experience this event to realize how much it can change a person’s life.”

Faulkes-Perelman added that the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic is a week of learning new sports to include, surfing, sailing, kayaking, cycling and track and field.


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