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Military & Veterans' Issues

Wounded Warriors Find New Normal Through Valor Games in San Antonio

San Antonio Sports

On a mid-afternoon at Mission Concepción Sports Park, about 50 wounded warriors gathered in the gymnasium to compete in an air rifle competition that is part of this year's Valor Games.

Some traveled hundreds of miles to get to this year’s Valor Games, like Edward Afanador, who lives in New Jersey.

“The camaraderie here is just incredible. It’s a great time. There are guys here that we met at the VA Wheelchair Games last August in Philadelphia. You get a chance to really bond and make lifetime friendships," Afandaor said.

San Antonio is one of four cities in the U.S. chosen for the Valor Games. More than 100 former and current military personnel are in town this week to have fun facing each other in sports competitions.  

The men and women at this year’s Valor Games are hoping to medal in wheelchair basketball, archery, cycling, kayaking and power lifting, but will also get to participate in paralympic-level sports activities that could propel them to compete internationally.

Valor Games Event Director Ross Davis says all the athletes have one thing in common.

“They’re either veterans or still active-duty, but all have some sort of an injury from war,” Davis said.

Afanador served in both the Army and the Air Force and was one of the first to be wounded in the current War on Terror. He was serving in the Army at Ground Zero when his breathing apparatus failed during the aftermath of 9/11. He suffered respirator injuries and his injuries progressed. He now has multiple disabilities that keep him in a wheelchair. He also came away with PTSD. 

Afanador said people come to the Valor Games for different reasons, but it’s important to him to do as much as he can with his “new normal.”

“I have to at least try," he said. "I have to try for my kids. I can’t tell my children that I need them to do their best in school but I don’t even try and do this. So to be able to really just come here and be a part of this is incredible. It shows my family that I care and I still want to go on.”

Afanador would place fourth in the air gun competition, and move on later in the week to basketball.

The games continue Wednesday with kayaking and cycling.