Butler VA Health Care System
Focused on the Wheelchair Games
U.S. Navy Veteran John Kellner was at VA Butler for rehabilitation in 2011 when a VA Therapist told him about the National Veterans Wheelchair Games being held in Pittsburgh that year and encouraged him to register. His response: “Why not? It’s in Pittsburgh. I’ll give it a try!”
John competed in his first Games in 2011 in Pittsburgh and brought home a gold medal in Archery. “I like to be competitive, and I like sports. I was in,” he said. Since then, he has competed in seven Games. His most recent Games was his most successful, bringing home 5 gold medals, and 1 bronze medal.
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games is co-presented between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The Games serve Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Amputations and other central neurological impairments with the goal to increase their independence, healthy activity and quality of life through wheelchair sports and recreation.
“It [The Games] keeps me focused on something year-round other than I’m in a wheelchair, ‘what can I do’?” said John. “Every year you meet somebody different, and of course you run into people you met years before. You’re in an environment where there are hundreds of people in wheelchairs. You’re not the only one. It’s a whole community of people dealing with the same thing you’re dealing with.”
The Games also help motivate John to keep active all year long. He trains almost year round to stay competitive. During the winter, he exercises and practices inside (YMCA and bowling), and when spring comes he heads outside to practice his field events and archery.
John wants Veterans to know it does not matter how you ended up in a wheelchair, as long as you are a Veteran. John is also a member of the Keystone PVA, and that organization (and many others) can assist Veterans interested in participating in the Games. John’s goal is to get more Veterans interested in the Games. “It keeps you focused on something other than your situation, and you don’t realize what you can do from a wheelchair until you try to do it!”
Learn more about the Wheelchair Games: http://wheelchairgames.org/. And, learn more about how VA Butler can help you stay active year-round: www.butler.va.gov/services/Health_and_Wellness.asp.