Wounded veterans gather for Valor Games

August 23, 2011 3:44:14 PM PDT
Soldier Field welcomed some special athletes Tuesday morning as the Valor Games Midwest kicked off its three-day event.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday wounded warriors will be competing for the gold.

It really shouldn't have rained on this parade, but that's the way it was at Soldier Field Tuesday. It was the opening ceremony for the first "Valor Games Midwest," and instead of being outside, it was under the stands.

Disabled vets gathered for sporting events featuring everything from the shot put to rowing, from archery to cycling.

"The Valor Games are a three-day completion in Chicago for injured, ill or wounded veterans to participate in sports," said Valor Games Midwest Director Pam Redding.

The event is sponsored by World Sport Chicago, and Wednesday, weather permitting, field events will be held at Soldier Field, cycling and archery at U.S. Cellular Field.

It's about valor earned long ago.

"The Valor Games really help to build valor it helps to give value. It helps to put ourselves," said disabled vet Babette Peyton.

Could there be any more appropriate place to hold the Valor Games than Soldier Field? It was commissioned in 1926 in honor of all soldiers. All those who served and died and were wounded.

Because of the rain they couldn't show us their athleticism on Tuesday, but they could tell us what something like this means for wounded warriors to have some of those wounds healed.

"It means a lot actually," said disabled vet Ron Miner. "It give me focus in my life. I train for these events. My wife helps me train for these events. It takes your mind off other problems you might have."

"For me and others like me, this has become a chance to show that even though we've taken off our military uniform, we continue to be active and productive," said disabled vet Lilia Hodges.

"They come here and they put on these games, and you know what? Just because of the wheelchair and the accident was the end of the old life. These games are the beginning of a of a new life," said Lt. Timothy Leonard, who was disabled in Iraq.

It might have rained on this parade Tuesday, but it didn't really matter, because for these stories the sunny optimism breaks right through.

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