Buckeye Wheelchair Games Draws Athletes Age 5 to Adult

Team Invacare

Team Invacare, which was a title sponsor of the Buckeye Wheelchair Games, poses inside the INSPIRE Institute arena.

At the end of April, the Buckeye chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America hosted its first annual Buckeye Wheelchair Games in Geneva, Ohio.

Forty-six wheelchair athletes competed in events that included track and field, swimming, billiards, table tennis, air rifle and bowling.

“From a psychosocial standpoint, these are still people who have competitive minds,” said Sharon Moster, executive director of the Buckeye Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans Association. “This gives them the opportunity for peer-to-peer competition, but also important is families come to these events. So families who feel isolated have the opportunity to socialize at these events and network… And the kids get together. There’s a much bigger picture than just the games.”

Families getting together was apparent during the bocci tournament, which drew athletes from ages 5 to adult. A team from Columbus consisting of 10 children with varying disabilities and coaches led the tournament. The team taught others who had never had the opportunity to play the sport.

Although the games were not a qualifying event, “about 35 of the people who were there actually go on to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, so this was warm-up for them,” Moster said.

The event was hosted by SPIRE Institute which provided “a spectacular facility” for the games, enabling all of the events to take place indoors, Moster said. Bowling was the only off-site event.

The games were supported by the Cleveland Veterans Administration Hospital and countless volunteers. Invacare, an Ohio-based manufacturer of mobility products, was the title sponsor.

The event, sanctioned by Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports USA (WASUSA), was open to athletes with spinal cord injury, disease or amputation. Participating in a wheelchair was required.

Moster says the Buckeye Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans Association is already planning next year’s event.