Film follows veterans to Paralympics

August 5, 2010 10:01:12 AM PDT
The number of veterans who become disabled during the Middle East wars is growing. They face various kinds of challenges that includes the lost of limbs and/or paralysis. But for some soldiers, they find a new outlook on life.

Adaptive sports is one area where people feel motivated especially after becoming disabled. Training and qualifying for the Paralympics shows they reach the top of their game.

From Baghdad to Beijing is the focus of a powerful documentary called Warrior Champions. The film follows four soldiers as they train for the 2008 Paralympic Games.

One of the veterans in the film is Oak Park resident Melissa Stockwell. She lost her leg in the spring of 2004, three weeks after being deployed. Her Humvee was hit by roadside bomb in Baghdad.

Melissa was the first female amputee to be selected to the Paralympics.

"They started filming, and I loved in the Olympic Chinese Center in Colorado Springs, and they starting filming probably in about February or March of 2008. Then they finished up in about after the Paralympics, which are in September," said Stockwell.

Pam Redding is the director of Paralympics and Disability Sport at World Sport Chicago. She says this film is inspiring. "It really shows the ability of the athletes and the promise that they have of being active again, and learning how to adjust to their new lives back in the U.S.," said Redding.

Chad Watson is an above-knee amputee.

"I was with the Marine Corps. I was wounded in Fallujah in 2006 with my unit overseas, was hit by an IED, and it took my right leg traumatically at the point from above the knee, and I broke my left foot and ankle overseas and suffered some other minor injuries, a little TBI," said Watson.

A former wrestler, Watson is hoping someday to be trained for the Paralympics.

"I 'm not eligible for wrestling; it's not a Paralympic sport, so that's kind of out of the deal, but I'm also dabbling in the triathlon," he said.

That's a sport that Stockwell is also training for.

"I'm kind of a swimmer turned tri-athlete, and that's not a Paralympics sport quite yet, so in London I will not be a Paralympian. It's not a Paralympics sport, but perhaps 2016," said Stockwell.

The documentary came to Chicago last month for a one-night showing. It has traveled to a few other cities.

"For other disabled Veterans -- or not even Veterans, just the disabled community -- there is so much out there, and so many opportunities out there, and just to take them and kind of don't let anything stop you," said Stockwell.

Warrior Champions is available on DVD. For more information -- including purchasing a copy -- go to www.warriorchampions.com.

www.worldsportchicago.org


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