The first time I attended the National Veterans Wheelchair Games was in 1995. I had been injured for three years and was having one heck of a pity party. I was encouraged to attend the Games in Atlanta by fellow Veteran, Joe Jackson. He will always have a special place in my heart for caring enough about me to get me to participate in this event.
Over the years I have met so many people that I now consider my “Games family.” When I come, I grieve for lost family members and celebrate with new ones, just as in any family reunion.
I have always known that it takes many volunteer hours to put this one week event on and I want to say thank you so much for changing my life. I have a wonderful friend who told me that when she met me the first time all those years ago, that I was a little scared wallflower, who has since bloomed.
I have a wonderful husband, Ron LaBar who spends his time making my world a wonderful place to live in. I have three grown children — all in college — and four beautiful grandchildren. I own ABC Home Medical Supply, which I started in a small 300-square-foot office that I rented for $300 per month in 2000, and went nationwide in 2005.
I recently completed a children’s book called The Adventures of Spunky and her Little Buddy Jack, with stories are about a teenage girl who participates in wheelchair sports and has many travels and adventures with her dog Jack. I wanted to create a story that did not concentrate on Spunky’s disability but focused on her adventures — or rather, misadventures. Did I mention that I bloomed?
I just want to thank you, Games staff and organizers, volunteers, PVA and sponsors, for not allowing me to continue with my pity party. Thank you for encouraging me to take the Games challenges, camaraderie and accomplishments home with me, and to rediscover the person who was waiting inside me to bloom.
If you would like more information on how you can register to compete at next years Games or if you want to follow the action at this year’s Games visit National Veterans Wheelchair Games for daily videos and athlete competition results.
Patricia LaBar is an U.S. Army Veteran and wheelchair athlete.