Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 5, 2011 -- Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will light the torch to start this year's Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here, May 16, 2011, officials of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, announced today.

Deloitte, an international accounting and consulting firm, is sponsoring this year's competition, which runs May 16-21, and will bring together more than 200 wounded, ill and injured servicemembers from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and special operations forces to compete in seven sports.

"I'm really excited that I was asked to do this," Giunta said. "It's truly an honor for me to kick off such an amazing competition with so many amazing people. All of the competitors have faced adversity in some shape or form, and the fact that they have overcome it to not only compete at this event, but live full, quality lives, is awesome."

Giunta, who has served in the U.S. Army for almost eight years and is stationed at Fort Collins, Colo., became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, the nation's highest military decoration for valor. He saved the lives of members of his squad in Afghanistan on Oct. 25, 2007, exposing himself to enemy fire to pull a Soldier back to cover when their platoon came under attack.

"It is a privilege to have Staff Sergeant Giunta as the torchbearer for the 2011 Warrior Games," said Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "He is a true hero who is a role model not only for those taking part in this competition, but for all people in the United States."

The Warrior Games are one component of the overall U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic Military Program, which is focused on providing daily physical activity as an important part of rehabilitation at the community and installation levels. The program isn't about elite performance, officials said, but rather focuses on assisting servicemembers with a physical disability to find enjoyment in activities that are instrumental in their rehabilitation.

In collaboration with the Defense Department, physical activity and sports participation rates at warrior transition units, wounded warrior battalions and detachments and other wounded warrior programs throughout the United States have increased by 23 percent in the past two years, U.S. Olympic Committee officials said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16