Warrior Games: Colorado Springs to host U.S. military's first-ever wounded soldiers Paralympics

The U.S. military's first-ever Warrior Games -- three days of Paralympic-style competition in nine sports -- will kick off in Colorado Springs with an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. -- or 1700, to quote the official event schedule.

The point of the Warrior Games, according to Army Brigadier General Gary Cheek, is to "inspire [disabled] soldiers to get out there and prove that there are a lot of things that they really can do."

Two hundred soldiers will participate: one hundred from the Army, fifty from the Marine Corps, twenty-five from the Air Force and another twenty-five culled from the Coast Guard and Navy. They'll compete in shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball at the Olympic Training Center.

While all of the competitors are wounded, not all of their injuries are physical.

Take, for example, Army Specialist Shawn Porter. A part-time soldier, Porter was diagnosed with PTSD after his second deployment, to Afghanistan. He hasn't been able to return to war since being diagnosed, and he says spending hours training for the archery competition at the Warrior Games has helped his recovery.

"I can't stand to stay home and do nothing," Porter told the Armed Forces Press Service. "I just have to stay busy."

Army Sergeant Juan Alcivar suffered a much more obvious injury: he shattered his upper right leg two years ago while serving in Iraq. Alcivar plans to compete in wheelchair volleyball, discus and cycling. His training partner, Army Specialist Craig Smith, lost his right leg to a roadside bomb last year. He'll compete in wheelchair basketball and discus.

Click here to read more biographies of the soldier-athletes slated to compete in the Warrior Games, and watch videos of some of them training.

Following tonight's opening ceremony, where Governor Bill Ritter is scheduled to give remarks, the events start tomorrow with sitting volleyball -- at 1600 sharp.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar