By Elizabeth M. CollinsMay 11, 2010
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, May 11, 2010) -- The first formal sporting games for wounded, injured and ill servicemembers kicked off Monday with dozens of Soldiers on hand to participate in events like archery, track and field and wheelchair basketball.
Some even followed in the steps of record-breaking Olympians by carrying the torch into the Olympic Training Center here during the opening ceremony of the Warrior Games, sponsored by the U.S. Paralympics Committee.
Sgt. Robert Price, a below-the-knee amputee, was the first servicemember to carry the torch, before handing it over to representatives from each of the other services. Hall-of-fame football player and Vietnam veteran Roger Staubach completed the short journey and lit the Olympic flame.
Price, who decided to remain in the Army after losing his right leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq and is now a cadre member at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, was given the honor of torch bearer because he made sure other Soldiers had the opportunity to compete as well.
"I helped out quite a bit (with) other posts that don't have the training materials, or for people to...get them out and do their training at my post," he explained. "Pretty much, I just took the initiative, took over the BAMC part of it for the Warrior Games, got these guys to come in and start doing it at Fort Sam Houston."
"I was actually very surprised. I didn't even expect it..." Price said about his selection to carry the torch. He explained that he was happy to do it, especially because sports helped keep him in the military. In fact, one of the reasons he decided to stay in the Army after losing his leg was to show other Soldiers that they could too.
"I'm walking, living proof of that. I'm out there, I made a difference, I'm out doing the right thing, being better," Price said, adding that "The importance of having an event like this is it gives all these wounded and injured or sick servicemembers out here (motivation) - just to show them that, sitting back in your room playing X-box, that's not what your life is about. There are other things you can go do, more things you can go out and do. There are a lot of sports activities; you can intermingle with your community again. Life doesn't come to an end just because you're sick or you're injured."
Price didn't even make allowances for his injuries while training for the Warrior Games. Nothing, he said, could slow him down. He plans to compete in three sports: archery, which he took up after his injury three years ago; 10-meter prone shooting because he's always loved to shoot; and sitting volleyball, which is a lot harder than it sounds, according to Price. It requires "a lot of core strength. You've got to have some strong abs, some strong arms to move around."
Bearing the torch and taking part in the history-making competition isn't all fun and games to Price, however. Equally important are the friends and comrades who can't be there to cheer him on.
"It felt great, but at the same time you have happiness and joy, but you've also got the sorrow part that goes inside the back of your head when you're sitting there going, 'I've lost a bunch of friends, a bunch of people aren't here to see this, to experience this," he explained.
For a complete schedule of Warrior Games events, please visit http://usparalympics.org/usoc-paralympic-military-program/warrior-games-presented-by-deloitte/competition-schedule.