CHICAGO (CBS) — The first-ever winter sports event for veterans with disabilities was held in Chicago on Tuesday.
As CBS 2’s Asal Rezaei reported, the city’s Park District hopes to empower our local veterans by involving them in physical entertainment at the event at McKinley Park.
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For Navy veteran Steve Thompson, it’s the adrenaline that comes with curling that he’s come to love.
“We just had an exciting, minute-to-minute, dramatic finish with curling and we won,” Thompson said.
While it’s hard to tell by watching his newly discovered curling skills in action, Thompson is an amputee – and says he couldn’t be happier with other veterans just having fun.
“To know that you can meet other veterans who understand what you’re going through, can share their experiences with you,” Thompson said.
Thompson was one of more than 25 disabled veterans to attend the Chicago Park District Windy City Winter Sports Clinic at McKinley Park. It’s an idea organizer Aimee Gottlieb came up with at a similar event in Colorado.
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“It’s amazing to see so many veterans coming not only from Chicago, but we also have veterans in town from Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana,” said Gottlieb, coordinator of the Chicago Park District programs and events.
Organizers hope that by involving veterans in sports like this, they will want to continue them even after the clinics are over.
“Really gain something from this clinic, I hope you go home and be active in the winter and really get rid of this pandemic blues,” Gottlieb said.
Some veterans donned snowshoes, others tried their hand at all-terrain chairs. No matter what sport they played, it was how they felt that mattered most.
“It makes you feel good. It gives you that adrenaline rush,” Thompson said. “It also gives you a sense of salvation, as a young person, as a younger person, as an older person, it’s nice to have something that puts a little joy in life for you.”
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The Chicago Park District also offers free programs each week for veterans. They also have the Valor Games Midwest summer coming up in August.