Milwaukee VA Medical Center
Community rides with Veterans
For Veteran John O’Donnel the annual adaptive sports clinic at Milwaukee was an eye-opening experience.
“Oh man, this is great,” said O’Donnel. “I was on the fence with doing some of this stuff before, but that rugby sure is something.”
The clinic is an annual event hosted by the Spinal Cord Injury Center at Milwaukee VA Medical Center. The annual even attracts more than 100 Veterans, friends and family members interested in adaptive sports.
Wheelchair rugby involves no lower body, just torso and arms. O’Donnel faced off against other Veterans, Klements Racing Sausages and officers from the Milwaukee Police Department.
“That right there, that will build up your confidence,” said O’Donnel, “Hell of a time, I had a blast.”
This is O’Donnel’s first time, but the third year of the Annual Badgerland Veterans Adaptive Sports Club Adaptive Cycling Clinic. The clinic, founded by Milwaukee VA Medical Center’s Spinal Cord Injury Center started with an informal adaptive bicycle ride. As more people got involved, it turned into a weekly ride. The group decided to hold an annual event in addition to the weekly rides.
“With support of the community and Veterans this has become a success,” said SCI Director Dr. Ken Lee.
Members from Paralyzed Veterans of America presented to Veterans of a lunchtime discussion on the career potential as an athlete.
More than 20 Milwaukee Police Department bicycle patrol officers volunteered to assist Veterans for the day.
“We’d do anything for our veterans,” said Officer Peter Pfau, “it’s a simple decision to ride side-by-side.”
The officers rode back and forth across the ten-mile stretch of the Hank Aaron Trail.
Lee’s goal in this clinic simple, introduce Veterans with disability to the world of adaptive cycling and health wellness. Paralyzed Veterans of America Racing Team provided peer support to the Veterans and held an open discussion with Veterans on adaptive sports options.
John Sison of Wheel and Sprocket attended the adaptive sports clinic for the third year in a row.
“This is to enrich veterans with spinal cord injury,” Sison said. “It forms a good relationship with veterans and the community.”
Sison said Wheel and Sprocket is a strong supporter of service members and hopes the partnership continues in the future.
“This is something that has really opened our eyes to the Veteran community,” said Sison.
At the end of the clinic, Veterans, police officers, and racers hit the Hank Aaron Trail for a 10-mile ride.
The Milwaukee Adaptive Sports and Recreation Expo July 26, sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin, located at Nathan Hale High School.
View photos from the event on our Flickr page!
Visit everybodyplays.eventbrite.com to register for the Expo.
Read next month’s 5000 West for a comprehensive look at Veterans and adaptive sports.