Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs, co-hosts of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, opened the event’s 37thyear last night in Cincinnati, OH.
More than 600 veteran athletes, all disabled military veterans from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Great Britain, will compete in 19 adaptive sporting events over the next five days.
The events kicked off to a great start as this year’s opening ceremonies brought a social media firestorm, pushing the event’s #NVWG hashtag to trend across all social platforms. Veterans, their family and friends, hundreds of staff members from both organizations, more than 3300 volunteers, and event sponsors flooded social media with highlights from the ceremony, which included a video montage from some notable names. A former U.S. President and some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry sent video messages of hope and encouragement to the veterans competing in this week’s events, and the response was overwhelming.
“Whenever we discuss the notion of ‘raising awareness,’ it is typically spoken of in abstract terms with no real measure of what it means. Social media offers Paralyzed Veterans of America an opportunity to measure awareness by sharing amazing stories on dynamic and far-reaching channels about how paralyzed veterans snatch hope from the jaws of despair,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America Executive Director and U.S. Marine Veteran Sherman Gillums, Jr.
Adding to the excitement this year, several of the events will be available to the nation via live stream, including wheelchair basketball, quad rugby, softball and weightlifting. Additional sports, such as handcycling, slalom, softball, and trapshooting will be highlighted through video shorts on the social media sites for both organizations.
“The more the average citizen, whether familiar with Paralyzed Veterans or not, sees and reads about what happens at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games through social media, the better he or she will appreciate how we transform lives through our mission. The unprecedented level and scale of social media interest in the Games this year will also increase the likelihood that a newly paralyzed veteran lying in his home or her hospital bed somewhere will see the coverage and realize there is life after injury,” concluded Gillums.
For Cincinnati residents, all events are free and open to the public to attend. And now, thanks to live streaming and digital media platforms, the nation can watch the action this week and take to social media to show its support for our nation’s veterans by using hashtag #NVWG.
For additional information about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games visit www.wheelchairgames.org, or follow hashtag #NVWG on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.