4th Annual Valor Games Midwest Hosted by the Chicago Park District

The Valor Games are an adaptive sports competition for veterans with various disabilities from amputees to post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly 200 athletes, both men, and women registered for this three day Para Olympic sport competition taking part in events such as; indoor rowing, power-lifting, archery, shot-put, cycling and tennis. The event aims to empower the athletes as well as strengthen the community.

Army Veteran Leon Mangum who has been instrumental in helping to coordinate the games introduced some women veterans who are not only participants in the Valor Games, but give a powerful voice to issues surrounding wounded female veterans. They were happy to talk about what being involved in the Valor Games has meant for them.

Navy Veteran, Meosha Thomas who won a Gold medal for her performance in the shot put said “the Valor Games are about “shedding labels of limitations, too often the label of not being able to do anything  is put on us. Every year hundreds of veterans show up and prove that stereotype wrong, they show up, they leave it all on the floor of their events, sweat, tears, cheers, whether they get a medal or not they come here to be winners, to prove that disabled veterans, who served their country are still able to give back to their country and maintain a sense of  value”.

Army Veteran Hattie Tyson is coping with her disability as well as multiple other health issues. She describes herself as a “Fighter” and “Over comer”, the Valor Games help give wounded veterans a sense of purpose and something positive to focus on, it has been a truly amazing and heartfelt experience, I don’t want to miss, if I miss the games it feels like a loss”

Army Veteran Retha Sims said “Being a part of the event keeps my morale up, keeps me focused, being around people that experienced the same thing , and  can relate to what you have gone through means a lot”

These women point out that because of the Valor Games and other organizations that reach out to wounded veterans, they have been able to build stronger support systems and friendship bonds that are important to their healing process.

It was a pleasure to spend time with women who has not let their disabilities stop them from being a part of something great “Develop your manner of living life on the edge, on your terms”.

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