JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — They sacrificed themselves to preserve our freedom. The Wounded Warrior Project continues to give back to veterans and on Friday members of that program were given the chance to learn a new sport. Needless to say, the competitive juices were flowing.
The YMCA wouldn't normally be the place for heavy collisions, but that's exactly what happened inside of the gym at the Brooks YMCA. A group of veterans from Wounded Warrior Project were given a crash course in the sport of wheelchair rugby.
"The competitive spirit comes back as soon as you find an outlet," says Army veteran Chris Hull. Hull is a veteran in more ways than one; he served in the Army for 3 years and he's also played wheelchair rugby for more than a decade.
"Wheelchair rugby has been my sport since day 1," says Hull, "as soon as I found out that I could hit other people in wheelchairs and not get in trouble for it. Finding a contact sport in a wheelchair was huge for me, it's amazing!"
This clinic is all about spreading his love of the sport to other veterans in wheelchairs. The court at the Brooks YMCA provides an outlet for Warriors who are being introduced to the sport.
"We're getting a little hitting here and there and trying to expose these veterans who came from Wounded Warrior Project to what we have here at Brooks YMCA and the Brooks rehab program," says Hull.
For the Warriors, it's a chance to play, be active and compete.
"So many of these Warriors come to the event thinking that there's no way they can play this sport," says Kate Belany of the Wounded Warrior Project, "they have severe injuries that stop them from being able to play and then they're introduced to something like this."
"Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, it doesn't matter," says Hull, "we're always competing against each other. There's always that competitive spirit that comes back and there's people that just want to have fun and they don't care who wins and they're just having a good time and there's room for everybody."
Amongst the bangs of wheelchairs smashing into each other, a sense of comradery.