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National Veterans Wheelchair Games begin at ASU

Over 500 athletes expected on Tempe campus, nearby sites

A woman holding a bowling ball speaks to two men in wheelchairs holding bowling balls.
June 24, 2022

Editor’s update: Thanks to great support from the local community, all volunteer positions have been filled. Sign-ups are now closed. Unfortunately, the event is closed to the public this year.

The National Veterans Wheelchair Games 2022 are coming to Arizona State University and two other nearby locations July 7–12, and organizers need more volunteers to help make the event a success.

Co-presented nationally by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, this will be the 41st annual games. Locally, the Phoenix VA is the lead organizer and the Phoenix VA Health Care System is the host.   

The games will be played primarily in the Sun Devil Fitness Complex on ASU’s Tempe Campus, but some will be held at the Ability360 sports and fitness center in Phoenix and in the Legacy Sports complex at Bell Bank Park in Mesa. All events will be indoors.

“ASU is proud to be supporting and serving as one of the three host locations in the Phoenix metro for this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games,” said Courtney Spivak Smith, director of student connection and community at ASU and university project manager for the games.

More than 500 athletes are expected to compete in over 20 sporting events. Organizers assembled a comprehensive event guide explaining all the different activities planned, including adaptive esports and the “atHOME” competition for those unable to travel to Tempe.

A few men in wheelchairs speak with volunteers dressed in bright yellow shirts.

Volunteers greet National Veterans Wheelchair Games participants after arriving for a past competition. Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

“Volunteers are an essential part of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and support all aspects of executing the event,” said Ginny Hoover, voluntary service specialist with the VA Center for Development & Civic Engagement in Washington, D.C. “Volunteers assist both the veteran athletes and officials to ensure the competitions run smoothly. They are also heavily involved in the logistical and administrative side of the games, supporting everything from transportation and site setup to athlete and volunteer registration to awards ceremonies and guest services at our hotels.”    

Due to COVID-19 protocols, fewer volunteers will be used this year, but there are still over 400 of 1,500 volunteer shifts needing to be filled, Hoover said.

“The biggest needs are with the accommodations, luggage and durable medical equipment at our athlete hotels on arrival and departure dates —July 6 and 13 — as well as our evening shifts at the Legacy Sports complex on July 11 and 12,” Hoover said.

Volunteer registration is online and those with questions can email, Hoover said. Everyone must be fully vaccinated and current on any eligible COVID-19 boosters to be able to volunteer to work with the veteran patients. Youth may volunteer but must be at least 16 years old and have parental consent. 

According to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games homepage, “... the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the first Wheelchair Games in 1981 with seven events and 77 athletes. Paralyzed Veterans of America joined the VA in 1985 to help expand the event’s mission and reach. The Wheelchair Games has flourished as more VA therapists turn to adaptive sports to help veterans become more active in their lives and communities — and, in some cases, reach higher levels of national and international competition. Over the years, thousands of veterans with disabilities have gained the skills, confidence and experience to take on challenges in the spirit of opportunity rather than limitation.”

Top photo courtesy U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs