By Charlie Huebner – Chief of U.S. Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee
Formerly the home of Ent Air Force base, named after Major General Uzal Girard Ent, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1944 crash, and set an example for other paraplegics by ultimately learning to walk with braces.
On Monday night, 200 injured soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, and coasties from our armed forces – Team USA – set an example for more than 1,000 spectators that came to celebrate their service to our nation.
Filled with patriotic sounds and a ceremony culminating in the lighting of the torch by sport and military great Roger Staubach, the Games officially opened.
Most poignant for me was the embrace given to these young men and women by people that came from all over the country to celebrate them at Opening Ceremonies.
Working for the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) in the U.S. Paralympic Division, I get to see young Americans pursue excellence, but just as importantly I get to see the incredible healing power of sport for those who have become physically disabled on a daily basis.
That mental and physical spark the simple power of sport contributes to the rehabilitation process is truly magical.
Like the Olympic Training Center! And for the next few days, I get to experience the pursuit of those dreams through the hearts and minds of 200 injured members of our armed forces who are competing for sport bragging rights, but also competing to re-enter life as healthy, productive members of our armed forces, and our community.
I am so fortunate!