By Christopher Fields, Army Warrior Care and TransitionSeptember 22, 2017
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Boy and Girl Scouts across America have long made parachute cord or paracord bracelets for themselves as a useful craft and simply because they look cool. But paracord bracelets, made from tying one continuous knot, are much more than a craft or a cool accessory. The versatile lightweight cord they are made from was originally used in parachutes, but has since become an all-purpose cord that can be used for everything from securing equipment or a harness to repairing a tent or even a belt.
Retired Navy Master Chief and Team US athlete Will Wilson met fellow Navy veteran Mike Mikkelsen in an airport one day in 2010 as they began talking about a particular military bracelet Wilson was wearing. Since that day the two have remained in touch and, oddly enough, bracelets have helped them do so.
In 2011, as the Warrior Games were approaching, Wilson came up with the idea of giving paracord bracelets to his Navy teammates as a show of unity. Knowing that Mikkelsen in the past had made and sold paracord bracelets as fundraisers for his son's soccer club and other activities, Wilson thought he'd ask his friend for a little help.
Mikkelsen was happy to assist and tied the continuous knot that makes a paracord bracelet many times for Team Navy that year. The bracelets were such a huge hit with the team, Mikkelsen made them for other years Wilson was on Team Navy as well. When Wilson was named to Team US, he thought he would once again call upon his friend one more time.
"I called Mike and I asked if his troop would be able to make some bracelets for Team US," Wilson said. "He told me they didn't really make them much anymore, but for Team US he would make it happen and he'd take care of the costs. You can't beat that and it is a testament to the kind of person he is."
Mikkelsen and his wife, Beverly, considered it an honor and a privilege to have made about 115 paracord bracelets, which take 10-15 minutes to make, for Team US. "It's such a unique opportunity to be able to support Team US like this. Who wouldn't want to step up and do it?" Mikkelsen said.
After he and his wife finished bracelets, Mikkelsen then drove the 220 miles from Boston to Hofstra University Tuesday morning to give them to Team US before turning around to drive back and catch a flight. The time, effort and gesture was not lost on the athletes.
"When they said just him and his wife made them all and drove them down from Boston, I was like wow," said U.S. Army Maj. James Pradke. "These bracelets are very cool and I am very appreciative of his support."
While the bracelets given to Team US can be unraveled and used for any given purpose, Mikkelsen simply wants them to be something Team US can look at and know people appreciate what they have done and sacrificed for their country.
"The Invictus Games are a really great thing for our wounded warriors and it was a thrill for me to support Team US. It's really special to be able to do it."
Team US will compete against 16 other nations at Invictus Games 2017 from 23-30 September in Toronto.