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Meet United States Paralympic Couple: Oksana Masters and Aaron Pike

Photo from https://www.facebook.com/USParalympicsNordic
The 2018 Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are just a little over two months away. Thousands of athletes from all over the world will compete in adaptive athletic events, and two of the stars will be couple Oksana Master and Aaron Pike. The pair met at the 2014 opening ceremony in Sochi and will both be looking to bring home gold medals for the United States this March.

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Adaptive Training Foundation Empowers Veterans through Exercise

It has become tradition that the last player selected in the NFL draft jokingly earns the title of “Mr Irrelevant”, and in 2008 David Vobora earned this recognition while being selected 252nd to the then St Louis Rams. After spending five seasons playing professional football, David founded a gym to help train potential NFL athletes. In January of 2014 he met retired US Army Staff Sergeant Brian Aft, and both of their lives were changed forever.

On a January day almost four years ago, David noticed Brian travelling by wheelchair in downtown Dallas. He felt as if they needed to meet, so David stopped and introduced himself to the US Army Veteran. After finding out that he lost all four of his limbs to an IED while in Afghanistan, David invited Brian to come train at his gym. For the next three months Brian came every day and the two men worked on creating a workout plan for amputees and individuals with physical disabilities. This friendship caused David to change his life plan and just months later he founded the Adaptive Training Foundation.

Today, the Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) has grown into the elite facility for paralyzed athletes. They offer two different training programs that are completely free thanks to generous donations. The REDEFINE program is designed to help improve quality of life and independence. They also provide free temporary housing for anyone that joins from outside of the Dallas area. Their REIGNITE program is a bit more intense, as they work with athletes preparing for competition. ATF has trained competitors for events such as the Paralympics, Warrior and Invictus Games.

Later this year the Adaptive Training Foundation will move into a gym that is almost four times the size of their current facility. REDEFINE Program Director Hunter Clark is very excited to be able to expand upon their mission.

“The new facility will allow us to expand upon the number of accepted athletes in each nine week program” Hunter stated, “We look forward to eventually expanding this program Nationwide”. Hunter explained, “There is nowhere else offering this type of intense, detailed oriented and very specific training program”.

It is safe to say that since the time he was drafted to the NFL, David Vobora has gone on to become everything but irrelevant!

To learn more about their program or how to get involved, please visit www.adaptivetrainingfoundation.org or check out the video below:

United States Shines at 2017 Invictus Games

Photo from Invictus Games: https://www.facebook.com/invictuslondon/

On Saturday evening, the 3rd annual Invictus Games held their closing ceremony, and several members of the United States team will be returning home from Toronto as champions. The week long event gained worldwide media attention thanks to appearances from current First Lady Melania Trump and former President Barrack Obama. 90 participants from the United States competed in both individual and team events, with many of them bringing back medals!

One of the most impressive performances at the Invictus Games came from United States Marine Corp Veteran and mother Sarah Rudder, who won five gold medals! Rudder won four medals in track and field events, and added a fifth gold with a team win in the one-minute rowing competition. She also won a silver medal in the four minute rowing contest, and a bronze medal as a member of the sitting volleyball team.

For the United State’s men, several individuals won multiple medals. Josh Lindstorm took gold and silver in archery events, and also won a bronze medal as part of the US golf team. Nathaniel Hamilton picked up a gold and silver medal in swimming events, while Brant Ireland earned a bronze and silver medal in cycling.

The final medal of the weekend was at stake when the United States wheelchair basketball team took on the Netherlands. The United States cruised past Denmark in the semi-finals with a 42-17 victory, but met a very determined and talented Netherlands team in the final. In front of a packed gymnasium, the United States was able to secure a 55-51 victory and yet another gold medal!

The 2018 Invictus Games are scheduled to take place in Sydney, Australia from October 20-27. Next year, ABC will broadcast several events and the ceremonies of the 2018 Invictus Games nationally. Don’t miss a moment!

Congratulations to all of the athletes who competed in this years events, and a special thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made the games possible!

MobilityWorks is Proud to Support Operation Injured Soldiers

Photo from Operation Injured Soldiers: https://www.facebook.com/operationinjuredsoldiers

Founded in 2005, Operation Injured Soldiers is a nonprofit organization in Michigan that provides recreation opportunities to wounded veterans. Their mission is to thank heroes for their sacrifices and help get them back into sports and hobbies they enjoyed prior to deployment. Last month, the group took their annual Muskie fishing trip and a few members from MobilityWorks tagged along for the excursion.

MobilityWorks Chief Financial Officer and avid fisherman Gerhard Schmidt first got involved with Operation Injured Soldier five years ago. Their shared passions for the outdoors and helping America’s veterans made for the perfect partnership. Schmidt attended the annual fishing trip for years, but this time he was unable to attend. However, fellow MobilityWorks employees, Brett Meals and Alex Kyger, were happy to fill in!

Gerhard Schmidt said “It has been an honor watching this event grow into what it has become knowing that it provides wonderful benefits to our Veterans. What could be better than spending a day with the heroes of our country fishing?” The annual trip has grown to include over 30 boats (several of them wheelchair accessible) and 100 participants. All of the proceeds for the event go to the Brave Hearts Estate, an over 200-acre farm that was donated to Operation Injured Soldiers. Throughout the year, they host several events at the farm, and the lodge there also offers free lodging to Veterans and their families.

On September 18th, the group set sail on Lake St Clair just East of Detroit. Alex and Brett were paired with two retired Veterans and their boat had a very successful day. They caught 7 Muskies in total with three of them coming in at over 40 inches! The evening concluded with a dinner at the Grosse Point Yacht Club. It was a great day of fishing, and most importantly the event raised over $100,000 towards helping America’s heroes.

Follow them on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/operationinjuredsoldiers

2017 Invictus Games Officially Begin

Photo from Invictus London 2014 : https://www.facebook.com/invictuslondon/

In 2014 Prince Harry of Wales set out to make a difference for injured soldiers returning from war, and created the Invictus Games. He started the international sporting event to inspire recovery, help support rehabilitation and to raise awareness and respect for those who serve their country. The Paralympic-style multi-sport event features adaptive games such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball and indoor rowing. The first Invictus Games took place in March of 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, England. This year they are being hosted in Toronto, Canada and the opening weekend was a great success!

On Saturday evening spectators filled Toronto’s Air Canada Center to welcome the 550 competitors from 17 nations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince Harry both gave moving speeches at the opening ceremony. In 2008 Prince Harry, who at the time was third in line for the British throne, was deployed to Afghanistan. On his return flight home, the coffin of a soldier was brought onto his flight, and it was at this time he knew that he needed to use his platform to help honor those returning from war.

In his speech on Saturday Prince Harry thanked all of the participants for their service, and stated “Some of you have cheated death and come back stronger than before. You are all winners. You are proving to the world anything is possible.” Canada’s popular Prime Minister was greeted with a roaring welcome and went on to give moving speech of his own. Trudeau talked about how everyone should consider what they can do to make a difference, and support the men and women who have sacrificed so much.

The games will continue through September, 30th and will conclude that evening with a closing ceremony. To view the complete schedule of events, watch live streaming matches or to learn more about the Invictus Games please visit www.invictusgames2017.com

Check out the video below from Retired US Air Force and Invictus Games competitor Patrick Roberts, as he talks about the importance of the event: