Valor Games Played In Military City USA
For the fourth year in a row, San Antonio is home to the Valor Games Southwest. Disabled veterans and wounded active duty servicemen and women are competing in adaptive sports.
Taking aim at the bull’s eye across a field, Valor Games archers let the arrows fly.
Some of these current and former service members are missing limbs. Others are burned. A few are blind. But they all have a competitive spirit, like Jason Tabansky, who’s in the Army and now relies on a wheelchair.
"Every day’s a new challenge and I’m learning new things every day," Tabanksy said.
The Mission Concepcion Sports Park where archers are vying for gold, silver and bronze is just one of the venues all over San Antonio where people from around the country are competing in seven sports including rowing, table tennis, power lifting and cycling.
The Alamodome parking lot served as the race track. The first gold medal winner of the day was Jerry Padgett II of Florida who used to serve in the Navy. He was paralyzed after being hit by an IED while he worked as a combat medic in Afghanistan.
"It knocked me out of the boat and threw me out 15 feet. I sustained a traumatic brain injury and a spinal injury," Padgett explained. "When I got injured, they told me I wouldn’t walk and talk again. My wife was like ‘you don’t know my husband. He’s going to be doing races on his hospital bed.’"
Padgett says the Valor Games give veterans from the Vietnam War through current conflicts a great kind of therapy. "For a veteran, it’s another mission. It’s a reason to get out of the bed," he added.
More than just building character and diligence, Ross Davis, Marketing Director of San Antonio Sports, says the Valor Games are good medicine.
"It’s great for them. It’s great for their psyche. It’s great for their rehabilitation. It’s just a great therapeutic way for them to have a better life," said Davis. He himself relies on a wheelchair.
A grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs funds the games and pays for the athletes travel, food and lodging. The idea is that any investment that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle helps wounded warriors successfully reintegrate into civilian life.
For archer Tabanksy, who has only been in a wheelchair for a year, joining the Valor Games is a way to see how other soldiers, Marines, airmen and reservists cope with their challenges.
"Getting the experience to meet everybody and learn from everybody that’s been in a chair or had some kind of disability. Even on your worst days, someone like that can help bring you back up," Tabansky said.