Hot Wheeled Heroes" at Wheelchair Games

Vets build camaraderie at competition

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- Men and women who've served our country decades ago may have seen their physical abilities decline. But don't think they're incapable of a little friendly competition. An annual event demonstrates that some vets "still got game".

Proud military veterans any other day of the year proved on Wednesday they are "Hot Wheeled Heroes" at the 5th annual Wheelchair Games. "This is special. This is really special," said U.S. Army Veteran Bill Harrison. 

Threatening skies meant competing indoors at the VA Medical Center's yearly event which features more than wheelchair racing. Mr. Harrison proved he can putt with the best of them. He served from 1972 to 1993. Calling the VA Community Living Center home these days, he lives with a band of brothers spanning the decades. "It's good for us all to be together. You know, we don't always get honored."

Vets who achieve best score or complete all the events like shuffleboard or hole-in-one golf are honored with awards and prizes. Linda Zaneski, the VA Medical Center Associate Chief Nurse for Geriatrics, said "The socialization and the competition gets them going and they are really excited to be here today and participate."

94-year-old World War II Vet Johnny Wrazien doesn't let age or his wheelchair stop him from participating. "I'm overjoyed I'm doing it. I'm being involved. I'm not feeling sorry for myself"

As for the joy and the rewards, they last a whole lot longer than just this one day. Bonds are formed through this recreational and rehabilitation activity. "We talk about old times and the political situation, today. We like to keep up with the current events," said Mr. Harrison.

It proves to be an enriching and uplifting experience for heroes then, now and always. "I can guarantee you they'll be talking about this for weeks," said Ms. Zaneski. 

Besides the VA Medical Center staff, community volunteers and family members helped at Wednesday's Wheelchair Games festivities.


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