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Incontinence Support Blog

Forget the Aisle Chair

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Aug 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Today, we've been sitting on the tarmac at Atlanta Airport for nearly two hours now. What was supposed to be a 45 minute layover has dragged on without explanation.

We're on the way to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Philly - and to my surprise, at least a quarter of the plane are competitors and wheelchair users. As an able bodied individual, this admittedly made boarding a longer process but in that time, I've actually learned a great deal.

For example, did you know there is such a thing as an "aisle chair"? I didn't. It has never occurred to me but the aisles on airplanes are so narrow that no normal wheelchair could fit - so airlines have a specialty one designed for use on the plane.

Most users seem fairly adept at transitioning and manipulating themselves to let other people squeeze past them. And they're all lively and chatting, telling travel horror stories - it seems traveling is no easy feat when you're paralyzed.

So why are we sitting on the tarmac 90 minutes after our flight was supposed to take off - well, it seems that airlines don't quite know how to handle having multiple wheelchair users on one flight. The delay is apparently due to lack of storage space for multiple wheelchairs. And they actually wanted to leave one behind and send it on the next flight - thankfully someone pointed out the difficulties with that approach.

Another thing I've learned - airlines have special rules in terms of how they need to handle batteries - including power wheelchair batteries - all the different types seem to seriously confuse them.

So now there are at least 5 different people up talking to the pilot when something else depressing happens. The gentleman in front of me, I'll call him Fred, needs to use the bathroom. He's been ringing the buzzer for the stewardess for a few minutes now with no response. He and his buddies are trying to get her attention, shouting and waving their arms in the air. Still no response.

A few minutes later a stewardess sighs and comes over. He explains that he needs the aisle chair to get to the bathroom. By the time she returns the whole expedition has taken nearly 30 minutes. And we're still not ready to leave.

I'm frustrated and I can only imagine how my fellow passengers are feeling. They're talking amongst themselves in frustration. It's a simple fix - make sure that airlines ask the wheelchair and battery questions upon check in. Simple idea but that would require a level of proactive customer service that we're unlikely to see in today's airline industry.

We're taking off now. I can only imagine how complex disembarking is going to be.

I don't have a lesson or a morale for this story. I just wanted to share because the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are an amazing and inspiring experience. And it seems, so is traveling to them.

If you're in Philadelphia this week - come check it out! The Games are open to the public and free of charge. With 17 different sports on offer, there's something for everyone

Thanks & See You All Next Week

P.S: After our arrival, we discovered that we weren't alone in this issue. It seems every major airline coming into Philadelphia today was equally befuddled by so many wheelchair users.

Topics: National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Only 3 Days Left... Join Us at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jul 16, 2013 9:31:00 AM

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games kicked off on Saturday - and what a day! We got a chance to catch up with lots of Liberty users, check out the coolest new tech and meet all sorts of inspiring new people.

For those of you that don't know, the Games needs thousands of volunteers to make things flow smoothly and every staff member here at Men's Liberty has been helping out. There are three days left and they could always use more help! So if you're in the Tampa Bay area come on down to the convention center and check it out!

To get you pumped, check out this trailer with photos and videos from the first two days of competition!


For more information on the Games, visit the PVA online at: www.wheelchairgames.pva.org

Topics: wheelchair games, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, veterans, spinal cord injury, mission able

Count Down to the Wheelchair Games - Check Out the New Trailer!

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jul 3, 2013 10:50:00 AM

We're just bursting with excitement that the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are coming to Tampa in just 10 days! In anticipation, we've put together a little trailer to whet your appetites.

Check it out below!


Topics: wheelchair games, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Best Day of Our Lives!

Posted by Mens Liberty

Jun 25, 2013 9:25:00 AM

“I can’t run” said my husband Tom.

“Of course you can’t” I said…  “But listen to this list -

Archery, bowling, golf, cycling, track and field, ping pong, rowing, weight lifting, sailing, swimming, scuba, shooting, fishing, kayaking, billiards, basketball, softball, sled hockey, tennis, horsemanship, skiing, waterskiing, and kite boarding!”

That’s all the sporting events available on the Tampa Veterans Hospital Adaptive Sports website!  And this is the FIRST website I’ve been to!”

I watched Toms eyes…  Yes, they welled with tears, as just 3 days earlier, Tom had just discovered that his “legs” were now his brand new wheelchair.  But something else happened!  Something exciting!

Not just Tom, but I also discovered that he’s not alone, and there are activities for him to get involved in, to have friends, to have challenges, and most importantly – TO HAVE FUN!

And that was just the beginning…

While I supported and watched Tom begin his rehabilitation, I couldn’t absorb enough INFORMATION about groups and activities for people with disabilities.  I had no idea how many groups and how many locations and activities were out there!  Hundreds!!

The day Tom told me that ‘he couldn’t run’ is etched into my memory forever.  Because that day was the beginning of our new discovery and our new life, and frankly, while at the time, I was overwhelmed with sadness and despair, it was actually one of the best days of our lives!

It was a day of DISCOVERY!  And it was a day that changed our lives for the better!  And the results have been astounding and remarkable!

That was 3 years ago, and in that 3 years, Tom has participated in many different Adaptive Sports events and competitions, and in many different cities and states.  And so have I – as Tommy and I have both continued to develop tremendous lifelong friendships and relationships!  And perhaps even more important – RESOURCES!

What we’ve both discovered is how so many Adaptive Sports athletes and families love to share their resources, how to find them, and who to talk to!

So it’s our turn to share some of the best resources with you, as in the end of this, I’m going to tell you about our 2nd best day ever – all thanks to Men’s Liberty!

I may be mistaken, and I don’t want to offend anyone, but to me it seems that many Adaptive Sports athletes are veterans.  Tommy was, which is why I started with our local Veterans Association.

I always first recommend using the internet – specifically, Google.  Just do a few searches.  Here’s my 5 highest recommendations for search words and phrases:

    • Wheelchair activities
    • Wheelchair games
    • Adaptive sports
    • Wheelchair support groups
    • People with Disability support groups

There’s more than 20 million “results” for those 5 searches alone. 

So what about Associations and Organizations?  Before I give you my recommendations, these groups seem to be focused in 2 different areas.  First – education, protection and laws.  Housing laws, workplace and employment laws, etc.

And second (which has been our focus) – locations, events and activities for people with disabilities.

Here’s my 5 highest recommendations for those groups:

Of course, don’t forget to do searches and talk to people about organizations, groups, locations and events in your LOCAL area!  I promise – talk to one informed person, and he or she will lead you to 5 other informed people!  It grows and it’s exciting!

I promised to tell you about our 2nd best day ever.  Here it is:

It was the day we discovered Men’s Liberty!  And all the problems it IMMEDIATELY SOLVED!  We will forever thank all the wonderful people at Men’s Liberty (that’s a whole different article – lol)!!

As many of you already know, participation in any event requires planning and skill in the area of “bladder management”, including all the problems, infections, irritated skin, rashes, and everything else associated with it.

PROBLEM SOLVED as soon as Tommy began using Men’s Liberty.  We can’t thank you enough, and it’s been fun sharing this information with a fantastic group of people.

Thanks to all the people we’ve met along this path – our lives are so blessed and full as a result of what we thought was a tragedy!  And thanks to all the wonderful friends we have at Men’s Liberty!

Oh yeah…  one more thing.  Remember Tommy saying ‘I can’t run’?  You should see him “run” now!  Just like all his friends – he can’t stop running in his wheelchair!

Whitney Russell

Topics: wheelchair games, Caregiving, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, veterans, spinal cord injury

The Benefits of Volunteering

Posted by Mens Liberty

May 2, 2013 10:15:00 AM

At Men’s Liberty, we’re really looking forward to the Wheelchair Games!  They’ll be right here in Tampa Bay this summer on July 13-18th.  Everyone on our team is excited about all the different venues and sports that will be occurring, and many of them are volunteering their time to help out.

That made me start thinking about the benefits of volunteering…

Many organizations  have a seemingly endless stream of volunteers.  Now here’s some great news:  According to statistics, volunteerism is on the rise.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of volunteers reached its’ highest level in five years.  It increased to an all-time high of 64.3 million Americans volunteering through organizations!  This equates to 8 billion hours with an estimated economic value of $171 billion dollars’ worth.  That’s phenomenal!

Both civic and school volunteerism is up.  Just look at the response to Hurricane Sandy!  Many individuals came from all over the country in response to a natural disaster.  And they are still there with an increased commitment to solve the problems of that area, as well as connect with the residents.

Ask most anyone that volunteers – they’ll tell you that it creates a deep sense of satisfaction!  Think about it…  When you help someone, how does it make you feel?  Great, right?!  Same with volunteering – you benefit personally by incorporating service and making a difference in other people’s lives, throughout your communities and your country.

All types of individuals volunteer.  Parents are one of the largest groups to volunteer.  Many parents work tirelessly as volunteers in schools or with youth organizations.  This aids in the development of our young people and helps our youth succeed.  They work to  raise funds, mentor, tutor and teach our youth.

Another large group of volunteers do neighborhood projects, assisting their less-capable neighbors with projects they themselves can’t accomplish.  There best part of volunteering are the wonderful intangible benefits - an increase in pride, satisfaction and accomplishment.

Veterans are a very large source of volunteers in our country.  Their commitment to serve continues well beyond their service of duty.  According to “Volunteering in America”, an average of 26% of all veterans continue to volunteer in their communities.

So - are there any health benefits to volunteering?

The simple answer is yes!

The Corporation for National and Community Service examined this relationship.  Their review of health benefits showed that volunteers had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression.

Among older volunteers, it’s reported that volunteering provides them with both a physical and social activity.  There seems to be a definite sense of purpose among this group.  Older individuals and most of their peers are facing changing social roles and potentially questioning their place in society.  Volunteering keeps them going.  And longitudinal studies show they have lower mortality rates and live longer.

So volunteerism can enhance the overall health of our population, as well as foster a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility in our world.

And if you’re in the Tampa Bay area this July, come on down and volunteer.  You know we’ll be there, and we’d love to meet you!  So come on down - you’ll make a difference - and feel great about it!

If not Tampa Bay, then ask yourself:  Where can I volunteer?  The payoff will be tremendous!


Volunteer at the  Wheelchair Games!

Topics: adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, veterans

5 Ways Adaptive Sports Changes Lives with Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jan 13, 2013 10:22:00 AM

Men’s Liberty has been privileged to be a Mission: ABLE partner and supporter of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games which are taking place in Tampa in July 2013. We’ve learned SO much from these inspiring athletes. And every time I talk to the competitors they give me new reasons to believe in the resilience of the human spirit. They speak with passion and conviction about the impact that adaptive sports have had in their life. Whether you’re an old hat or still a bit green, we’ve heard your stories and wanted to share the top 5 ways you say that adaptive sports have changed your lives. Have additional ways – let us know in the comments!

The stories below are from a variety of individuals, including veterans and civilians with spinal cord, traumatic brain and other injuries.

#1 – "Today, I am only on three different medications (down from 15) because of skiing. I have had the same coaches for the last three years and they have seen fast and unbelievable changes in me with my TBI."

Spc. Joel Hunt is an army veteran with a Traumatic Brain Injury who competes as an Alpine Skier. 

"When I came home I spent one year in a wheelchair feeling helpless. I was always the man that provided for my soldiers. And now I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. When my parents came to take care of me they constantly motivated me by getting me out of the house. I was lucky because a lot of soldiers do not have that support system. I am from Kokomo, a small town in Indiana and I had never skied before in my life. What I didn't realize is that skiing would change my life. In February 2008, I started getting out of my wheelchair because of my dizziness and my blackouts due to overheating. Plus, I didn't have enough control in my legs due to numbness and I was on 15 different kinds of medications. At times, my speech was slurred and my thinking was so slow that people thought I was drunk.

Since I had PTSD and TBI, I never wanted to get out of the house. My parents forced me to go to BOEC TBI ski camp to give it a try. On December 17, 2008, I learned how to ski and was told that I was carving on the third day. I was then introduced to NSCD to learn to race camp which I did well on rec skis. My best friend told me to check out CAF Operation Rebound and because of them and Disabled Sports USA's (DS / USA) efforts, I was able to compete that next year."

How adaptive sports changed your life: "Today, I am only on three different medications (down from 15) because of skiing. I have had the same coaches for the last three years and they have seen fast and unbelievable changes in me with my TBI."

For more information on Joel, visit: http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/va_groups_story-JoelHunt.asp

#2 – “Playing sports, along with everyone's support, played a key role in my physical recovery as well as my psychological recovery.”

Carlos Leon is a quadriplegic and former marine who competes in the Discus. He’s only 2.62m from breaking the world record!

Training Regimen: "I pretty much live at the gym because I want to be the best in the world at the discus throw."

How did you get involved in adaptive sports: "My parents are Colombian so playing soccer at an early age is a tradition in my family. I've been an athlete my entire life. In June 2005, I had recently returned from deployment in Iraq and was six months from relief of active duty. While stationed in Hawaii's Kane'ohe Bay, I went swimming with some friends. I dove in the water, hit some coral rock and broke my neck at the fifth cervical vertebrae. Five months later, I attended my first sports camp."

How adaptive sports changed your life: "My family, friends and the Corps were behind me 100%. Playing sports, along with everyone's support, played a key role in my physical recovery as well as my psychological recovery. Six years have passed since my accident where I lost function of my limbs. Now, I can walk with the assistance of a cane or walker. My discus throw, which is now my sole focus, has gone from eight meters on my first throw five years ago to nearly 24 meters. I am only 2.62 meters off the world record."

For more information on Joel, visit: http://www.va.gov/adaptivesports/va_groups_story-CarlosLeon.asp

#3 – “Growing up, I didn't know any injured people. The only injured people we see are the people at traffic stops asking for change. Paralympic sports opened my mind to a different world. I learned that I had options."

Kari Miller is an Army veteran and double amputee. She competes in women’s sitting volleyball and won a silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China and named best libero at the 2009 Euro Cup.

How did you get involved in adaptive sports: "In December 1999, I was on leave of duty to visit my family for Christmas. While driving, my car was struck by a drunk driver and as a result, I lost both of my legs. In the weeks following the accident, I had plenty of bad days but my physical and emotional rehabilitation came through athletic competition."

How adaptive sports changed your life: "Through sport competition, my work with the USOC Paralympic Military Program and support from my family, I realized my full potential as an athlete with a disability. Growing up, I didn't know any injured people. The only injured people we see are the people at traffic stops asking for change. Paralympic sports opened my mind to a different world. I learned that I had options."

Kari participates in sports for: Rehabilitation, competition and teaching other disabled Veterans about sports.

Fun fact: Kari is a rock climber and comic book enthusiast.


#4 – Going from instructor to student gave me a new appreciation of how “hard it is for our students to do what we ask them to do; and how dedicated and competent our instructors are.”

For many years, I taught skiing and snowboarding at the Adaptive Sports Foundation as a volunteer instructor. I skied or snowboarded everywhere on Windham Mountain with ease. I gave the first snowboard lesson to many of our students on the racing team.

Life changed for me a few years ago when I developed a neurological condition that cost me the use of my legs. In 2008, I could no longer snowboard or ski. In fact, I could barely walk.

So, I became an indoor volunteer, doing what I could to remain active in the program and stay in contact with friends, fellow volunteers, and students. My fellow instructors and students, especially Michael Mistretta, Kevin Cohane, John Swartwood and Mary Bozzone, gave me wonderful advice on how to cope with my new disability, which made life a lot easier. I learned how to use crutches and a wheelchair, which was something I never thought I would have to deal with on a personal level.

Last winter, I took the plunge and tried mono-skiing. With assistance and encouragement from Adam DeMuth, my daughter Dani, and many other instructors, I was finally able to get back on the snow. The experience was exciting and enlightening! Being on the other side, a student and not instructor, brought home two things I never understood before: first, how hard it is for our students to do what we ask them to do; and second, how dedicated and competent our instructors are.

I wish I could say I was an instant superstar, but the fact is, I did a lot of falling, and Adam and Dani did a lot of picking up. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I wasn’t always able to do it. And, it is amazing how steep White Way, a Windham Mountain beginner trail, looks when you are going down in a mono-ski and not upright on a snowboard. After a few days and many runs, I was able to master Willpower, another Windham Mountain beginner trail, and get up and down White Way with ease.

My instructors displayed infinite patience, not only teaching me how to ski, but encouraging me after each frustrating fall. This year my goal is to improve enough so that I can return to teaching. If I can accomplish that, I know I will be better than I ever was before, because now I have seen life from the other side.

For more information on the Adaptive Sports Foundation, visit: http://blog.adaptivesportsfoundation.org/2011/03/volunteer-gains-first-hand-insight-as-role-changes-from-instructor-to-participant/

#5 –  “When you’ve had a traumatic injury it affects your social life, self-confidence and self-worth. Our job is to say ‘your life has changed but it hasn’t gone up in smoke’.”

Tom Brown, who was a rehabilitation therapist at McGuire VA hospital and director of the first National Veterans Wheelchair Games, knows firsthand the therapeutic value of adaptive sports. Born without legs— “I have been basically between artificial legs and wheelchairs all my life”—at age 7 he was the youngest member of an all-men’s wheelchair basketball team.
While majoring in music at the University of Illinois, Brown enthusiastically participated in UI’s wheelchair sports program—one of the few in the country at the time. In the end, love of sports prevailed; he pursued his master’s in therapeutic rehabilitation (TR).

“The goal of TR is to get people with disabilities out into the community,” Brown, Paralyzed Veterans’ director for the 32nd Games, explains. “When you’ve had a traumatic injury it affects your social life, self-confidence and self-worth. So we work on whole body, mind and soul. All of these [injured] were military vets, parts of teams—now suddenly they are on their own, they can’t be part of something. Our job is to say ‘your life has changed but it hasn’t gone up in smoke.’ ”

Dr Ken Lee, head of spinal cord medicine at VA Medical Center in Milwaukee, and himself a combat veteran and former patient (he received a traumatic brain injury from a suicide car bombing) seconds Brown’s view. “We’ve been pushed to do some sports since childhood,” he says. “It makes sense that when we have an injury or life-altering medical event, we can use sports to get back into the world—the wheelchair is no longer a boundary.”

A member of the Games’ national physician team since 1999, Dr. Lee sees it as an event that epitomizes adaptive sports’ unique healing abilities. “Many people think adaptive sports are fun and games,” he says. “They don’t realize it is all about rehab. Adaptive sports keep the rehab in motion—and keeps the injured moving forward.”

Both Lee and Brown see an added value in the sheer numbers competing. “The modeling between a new vet and a worldly vet, who has been to the Games and been out in the community is remarkable,” Brown says. “It’s worth probably more than any therapist or hospital program could ever do. It’s one thing for an able-bodied person to tell them ‘you can do it’—when they see fellow vets doing it, it sinks in.”

For more information on the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Wheelchair Games, visit: www.pva.org

Have additional stories you want to share?  Let us know in the comments!


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Topics: wheelchair games, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, veterans, spinal cord injury, mission able

5 Things You Need to Know About the Paralympics

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jan 11, 2013 10:30:00 AM

There was a lot of coverage this summer of the London Paralympics. As part of #ThrowbackThursday we are sharing a whole host of images from the past events and we came across 5 surprising facts we thought you should know!

#1 - The Olympic and Paralympic Games are actually two separate entities.

The two Games are actually completely separate. The first international Paralympic Games took place in Rome, a week after the 1960 Summer Olympic Games were held there. In 1964, they were held in Tokyo, again just after the Olympics.

But in 1968, Mexico City, the host city of that year’s Olympics, refused to host the Paralympics. They were instead held in Tel Aviv and from then until 1988, the Paralympics continued to be held in locations completely separate to the Olympics.

Then in 1988, Olympics hosts Seoul took on the Paralympics, and they have been held together ever since. In 2001, it became official, and now host cities have to bid for both.

There are rumors that one day the two might merge, but opinions are split on the merits of such a move. Read more…

#2 – The first Paralympics were held in 1960, but international adaptive athletic competitions go back to the 17th century!

While early local or national versions of the modern Olympics began in England and France as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries, the Paralympics Games are just over 50 years old.

Did you know that an early version of the Paralympics began in Britain? A precursor to the Games was held to coincide with the 1948 London Olympics at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, which is world-renowned for its work with people who’d suffered spinal injuries.

Organised by Sir Ludwig “Poppa” Guttmann, a German-born doctor who had escaped Nazi Germany, and worked to rehabilitate British soldiers injured in the war, the Stoke Mandeville Games were held again in 1952 when Dutch war veterans also took part, making it the first international competition of its kind. Just eight years later, what has since become known as the first official Paralympic Games was held in Rome in 1960, featuring 400 athletes from 23 countries.  Read more…

#3 – The first games were only open to athletes in wheelchairs.

Until 1976 the Games were open only to athletes in wheelchairs. The term was first used in the 1950s and was a pun amalgamating the words paraplegic and Olympics.

But in 1976 many more classifications were added, allowing 1,600 athletes from 40 countries to compete. The present-day Paralympic Games include five major classifications of athletes: persons with visual impairments, persons with physical disabilities, amputee athletes, people with cerebral palsy, people with spinal cord injuries and Les Autres - athletes with a physical disability that are not included in the categories mentioned above (e.g., people with Muscular Dystrophy).

#4 – The Paralympic mascot, Mandeville, is named after Stoke Mandeville Hospital in the UK where an early version of the Games got started.

What's less well known about the original 1948 games - then known as the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games - is that patients at Stoke Mandeville were pitted against another care facility, the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond Upon Thames, where the father of the games, Dr. Ludwig Guttman, also worked.

Less well known still is that the Royal Star and Garter side won that inaugural contest - an archery competition. The Richmond-based patients also won the rematch just a few weeks later.

Regardless of who won, what is true is that without Dr. Ludwig Guttmann there would be no modern Paralympics. Moreover, there'd be many wounded servicemen from WW2 who'd have never survived horrific paralyzing injuries.

I met Ron Hill, now 92, but a man who thought he'd be lucky to live three months after shrapnel paralyzed him from the chest down on D-Day. He considers himself very lucky to have been taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to be treated by Dr. Guttmann.

All these years on Ron now lives and is cared for at the Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond where his former doctor once also worked. He explained, "He didn't let you stop using your brain. He had you up in a wheelchair as soon as possible."

You learn more about the origins of the Paralympics at the Mandeville Legacy website, here.

#5 – The range of adaptive sports has expanded throughout the years and includes several adapted versions of able-bodied sports.

Although there are sports that only disabled people play, you’ll recognize most of the events at the Paralympics. Swimming, cycling and athletics will happen in a similar way to their Olympic equivalents, albeit split into many different classifications, and with added prosthetics, wheelchairs and human guides.

Spectators at sports like wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball and blind football, who are familiar with their able-bodied equivalents, will quickly realize that the Paralympic versions bear little resemblance to the sports they know and love.

The ball used in blind football is less bouncy than a regular one and contains ball bearings to make it audible.

It is played on a hard surface by two teams of five players. The area of play is smaller than in regular football and is surrounded by boards. The boards not only stop the ball from going out, but also reflect sounds from the ball and from footsteps, which helps players to orientate themselves on the pitch. Teams rely heavily on numerous audible clues, so spectators must stay silent during play.

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While the Paralympics won’t be back for a few years, we’re looking forward to the 2014 Games in Brazil and seeing all these amazing athletes! And in the meantime, there are a ton of great local adaptive sports competitions to check out including the International Quad Rugby Tournament here in Tampa that is taking place this weekend. Check it out!

21st Annual Coloplast International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament

All Peoples Center

6105 E. Sligh Avenue

Tampa, Fl 33617

Fri, 01/11/2013 (All day) - Sun, 01/13/2013 (All day)

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Topics: wheelchair games, bladder control, Caregiving, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, veterans, mission able

Following Davis Part 3: Murderball with Men's Liberty

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Jan 1, 2013 11:57:00 AM

We’re back and to kick of 2013 with a bang we wanted to share an update from Davis as he prepares for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

After nearly 10 years of heckling from friends and fellow competitors, Davis has finally given in and joined the Tampa Generals Quad Rugby team. “I’ve been talking trash for years, now I have to put my money where my mouth is,” he says. Although the Tampa Generals aren't part of the Games, being involved in great practice and he's loving the challenge!

I joined Davis and his Tampa Generals teammates for a practice session in Clearwater, FL just before Christmas and wanted to share the pics and videos below!

It been a couple of days since the practice and the thing that I remember most is the sound. They practice in a gymnasium so everything sounds louder. It echoes. The players have special chairs with full metal wheels that are angled for balance and turning at high speeds. They bang into one another over and over backwards and forwards - it sounds like they are trying to knock each other out of their chairs!

In the midst of all this they are throwing and dribbling a white ball, attempting to score. I don't know too much about rugby but it seems that the quad rugby teams have matched the able bodied version for sheer brutality. I guess I know now why it's called murderball!

Tampa Generals Wheelchair Rugby Tournament

The Tampa Generals are a wheelchair rugby team that has been in existence since 1989. Since their inception, the Generals have continued to be one of the top teams in the U.S. Quad Rugby Association. The Generals boast 3 National Championships and are the most storied team in the history of the sport. The Generals are a community based team comprised of players from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Hernando, and Sarasota counties. During rugby season (Oct - Apr), the Generals compete at an average of 8-10 tournaments per year around the country. Davis is one of nearly a dozen players including two women!

Tampa Generals Competition

There are 4 veterans on the Tampa Generals team and they are looking forward to competing in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. In advance of the Games, Davis is learning a lot with the Tampa Generals and enjoying the competitions!

There are two local January competitions in FL that we’d encourage you all to check out! We’ll be there with bells on to support these amazing athletes!

Tampa Generals logo6th Annual Southern Slam Quad Rugby Tournament

Jacksonville Ice & Sportsplex
3605 Phillips Highway
Jacksonville, FL 32207-5613

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 9:00am - Sun, 01/06/2013 - 1:00pm

21st Annual Coloplast International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament

All Peoples Center

6105 E. Sligh Avenue

Tampa, Fl 33617

Fri, 01/11/2013 (All day) - Sun, 01/13/2013 (All day)

Next up on Following Davis…. adaptive water-skiing!!!

Subscribe today to keep up with all the news on the Veterans Wheelchair Games. Seize the day in Tampa Bay!!

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For more info on the Games, check out: www.wheelchairgames.pva.org

Topics: adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, Following Davis, veterans, spinal cord injury

Following Davis Part 2: Hand Cycling

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Nov 14, 2012 4:01:00 PM

We checked in with Davis again this week since he just started training! He is planning on competing in swimming, hand cycling and quad rugby at next year’s Veterans Wheelchair Games in Tampa. The swimming training is going to wait until spring, but Davis said he was thrilled to be getting started with hand cycling and quad rugby (also known as Murderball!).

Ride to Defeat ALSTo kick things off, Davis joined 500 other cyclists in the Ride to Defeat ALS at Walsingham Park in Clearwater, FL on November 3rd. Joined by his 17 year old son, Davis completed the 25 mile ride on an adaptive hand cycle. He competes every year to increase awareness of ALS.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that progressively paralyzes its victims, attacking nerve cells and pathways in the brain or spinal cord. Patients are robbed of the ability to walk, eat, speak, and eventually breathe.

Upon diagnosis, patients are given just two to five years to live. ALS can strike anyone at any time, and although there is no known cure, recent scientific breakthroughs provide hope for the future. Military veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS. The connection is unknown.

Ride to Defeat ALS Hand CyclistsA common side effect of ALS is incontinence as patients lose muscle control. Joined by campaigners including Augie Neito, Men’s Liberty works with hundreds of men with ALS to maintain their independence as long as possible.

Davis is also looking forward to his first quad rugby tournament this weekend in Jacksonville, FL. “I’m a little nervous but I’m looking forward to it” he said. “There is a lot of trash talk in rugby games but I think I can keep up!”

The Jacksonville Mini Rugby Tournament brings together teams of adaptive athletes for fun and fiercely competitive games all across Florida! We’ll check back in next week to see how the tournament went and share some photos of the game affectionately known as Murderball.

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Men’s Liberty is a proud sponsor of Mission: ABLE and an enthusiastic supporter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. For more information on the Wheelchair Games, check out their website: www.wheelchairgames.va.gov

Topics: adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, Following Davis, veterans

Following Davis… Countdown to the Wheelchair Games!

Posted by Sarah Woodward

Oct 23, 2012 12:54:00 PM

Men’s Liberty is a proud sponsor of Mission: ABLE and regular attendee at the PVA’s annual Wheelchair Games. We are so proud of these adaptive athletes and are consistently amazed by their accomplishments. These competitors challenge the stigma too often associated with ‘disability’. It’s just under a year until the next Wheelchair Games and training is already kicking off. To top up the excitement in our offices, we are thrilled that the Games are being hosted here in Tampa and we’re looking forward to being involved every step of the way.

In that spirit, we want you to get in on the action as well. For the next 10 months, we are inviting you to follow Davis, a local Tampa Bay area competitor in weight lifting, swimming, hand-cycling and quad rugby (also known as Murderball!). He is starting training next week for hand cycling and quad rugby!

Davis Celestine, PVA, Men's Liberty

We’re going to be checking in with Davis every few weeks as he trains for the Wheelchair Games and we’ll be posting updates here so you all can follow along. Last year he won the Silver Medal in swimming and the Gold in weight lifting. We’re looking forward to seeing him do it again this year!

Davis is a C6 partial quadriplegic who was wounded in a training accident while he was preparing with his unit to be deployed to Afghanistan in 2001. He is now the President of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and quite the advocate for veterans in the area! We are thrilled to get to follow along on the amazing journey he and the other athletes will take leading up to the 2013 Wheelchair Games!

In a recent interview with the Tampa Tribune, Davis explained why he was excited to have the games come to Tampa.

"Tampa is a great place for veterans," says Davis . "It is a community enriched with military veterans who have served before me and who are serving after me. We came and made it home.

"Having the games come back to Tampa is going to be a grand old event to show people in my community what a disabled person can do. It's not a sickness or disorder. We want to show that individuals, even in a chair, can live a healthy and active life."

When he’s not competing, Davis is the proud husband and father of two very active 17 year old twins.  He is looking forward to watching them graduate from high school next spring and then head off to college here in Florida.

Check out this ABC News piece on Davis and the Wheelchair Games:

The Games will be taking place in Tampa July 13 to 18, 2013 and are expected to draw more than 500 Veterans from across the United States, Puerto Rico and Great Britain. 

Davis Celestine Wheelchair Games 

Veterans compete in 17 competitive events including air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, field events such shot put, javelin, discus and club, hand-cycling, a motorized wheelchair rally, nine ball, power soccer, quad rugby, slalom, softball, swimming, table tennis, track, trapshooting and weightlifting. The athletes compete in all events against each other with similar athletic ability, competitive experience or age. 

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Men’s Liberty is a proud sponsor of Mission: ABLE and an enthusiastic supporter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. For more information on the Wheelchair Games, check out their website: www.wheelchairgames.va.gov

Topics: wheelchair games, external catheter for men, adaptive athletes, National Veterans Wheelchair Games, Following Davis, veterans, spinal cord injury, mission able