West Point hosts Warrior Games, Cadets give back
By Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor
The 2016 Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games took place at the U.S. Military Academy June 15-21. Athletes from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as athletes from the United Kingdom Armed Forces, came to participate in the games.
The Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 250 athletes competed in this year’s games.
According to their website, “The DOD Warrior Games highlight the resiliency and warrior spirit of service members, veterans and their families and caregivers. Adaptive sports and athletic reconditioning activities play a fundamental role in the successful recovery and reintegration of our service members and veterans.”
Throughout the weeklong competition, U.S. Military Academy cadets were there assisting athletes and personnel during the sporting events, as well as preparing for the games beforehand.
“It’s one of the more inspiring things I’ve ever seen,” Class of 2019 Cadet Alex Porter said. “These people have gone through a lot more than I ever have, and maybe I ever will.”
Porter was part of a group of cadets who helped build the stage for the opening ceremony as well as the archery course.
During the Games, he had the opportunity to speak to some of the athletes and hear their stories.
“I spoke to a man, a Navy Seal, who’s paralyzed from the legs down and he just gave me some words of wisdom,” Porter noted. “Just give all you can, no matter the circumstances. He’s in a wheel chair and he’s doing almost every event here, and so no matter what the circumstance, do all that you can.”
Class of 2019 Cadet Sebastian Villarreal, another Warrior Games volunteer, said that stories like these have encouraged him as well.
“These athletes, some people may feel sorry for them, but I’d just tell them no,” Villarreal said. “These people are living life to the fullest. They come out here every day and put in the work and they are quite happy to do anything that they can, athletically. I think it’s a good thing to notice that just because they are disabled in some way or form, there is still a chance to live a full life, and that’s what they’re doing right now.”