When asked to sum up his first 2018 Buckeye games in one word, Samuel Johnson of Michigan eloquently stated “WOW”. During a recent visit to the Cleveland VA, Samuel learned of the Buckeye games held April 20 and
April 21, 2018 in Ohio and decided to attend this year’s games. As he accepted his “Spirit of the Games” award, he was deeply humbled and thanked fellow participants for honoring him with the prestigious award. Those who got to know Samuel at this year’s games weren’t surprised he was chosen. Throughout the two-day event, when Samuel wasn’t participating he was cheering on fellow participants and encouraging them to finish with a high five and a big smile.
Samuel was one of 74 participants at this year’s 7th Annual Buckeye Wheelchair Games held at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. Nestled in wine country, this official USOC Olympic and Paralympic training site is perfect for hosting the Buckeye games. The all-inclusive state of the art 750,000-square foot indoor athletic complex features an indoor 300-meter track, 50-meter Olympic pool and a banquet center. This year participants from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Kentucky competed in Track and Field Events, Air Rifle, Slalom, Weightlifting, Billiards, Swimming, Table Tennis, Boccia Ball and Bowling. The only thing the Spire Institute doesn’t have is a bowling alley. The bowling competition was held at nearby Scores Entertainment Center in Painesville.
Although, it is a competition, the Buckeye games feel more like the best family reunion you’ve ever had the privilege to attend. Many competitive athletic events with a bit of trash talking, tons of encouragement, camaraderie, laughter and fun. Lead by Veteran Carl Harris (President) and Sharon Moster (Executive Director) of the PVA, Buckeye Chapter, they exceed their goal of improving the quality of life for Veterans with disabilities and fostering better health through sports competition. The event provides newly injured veterans with the opportunity to gain sports skills in a climate of encouragement. Through the physical challenges, veterans become aware of their abilities and potential by engaging in therapeutic sports competition. From the novice to those who have participated and competed nationally, the games bring together a diverse family of veterans from all branches of the armed services.
The MobilityWorks team was honored to be a part of this year’s event. All of the Veterans at the event, inspired, encouraged and left all of us in awe of their abilities, spirit and compassion. We will never forget moments like Tommy Durban winning MVP at his first games at Spire, James Letizio winning billiards with his favorite pool stick, Buddy (a Jack Russell therapy dog) barking on Leo Kelly’s tremendous Slalom run, the dynamic duo of Edward Davis and Michael Reynolds in the Boccia ball finals, or the mixed relay of Veterans and high school students from Geneva High School. The Cleveland VA Chaplin George Hankins said it best during the awards ceremony “Disability is not the same as inability. The Buckeye games are about celebrating one another’s abilities.” Thank you ALL for inspiring all of us to be better.
To see more about the 2018 Buckeye Wheelchair Games view our video below.
To learn more about the PVA or the Buckeye Games please visit www.buckeyepva.org