The last week of June was a busy one as Minneapolis played host to both the 25th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, and the Spina Bifida Association of America’s 32nd Annual Conference.
25th National Veterans Wheelchair Games
The Minneapolis Convention Center served as the venue for many of the events for the Wheelchair games, including the opening and closing ceremonies. The host chapter of this year’s events was the Minnesota Chapter-Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Minneapolis VA Medical Center served as the host VA facility. This year’s games attracted 498 participants, and an estimated 3000 people attended. Veterans came from all 50 states and two territories. The events ranged from archery and bowling to basketball and softball.
All participating athletes had a significant permanent neuromuscular-skeletal disability such as a spinal cord disorder, polio, amputation, etc. In order to be classified into one of seven levels (eight for swimming) to allow a level playing field in the various events, each athlete was given a special medical examination for the purpose of determining their individual level of muscular function. The games are unbelievably competitive and are not without controversy. But the level of camaraderie is equally impressive, with friendships (and grudges) that are renewed yearly.
Next year’s games are to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, from July 2-8, 2006. For more information, call Ginny Schmidt, NVWG Project Coordinator for the Paralyzed Veterans of America at 202-416-7705.
32nd Annual Spina Bifida Association of America Conference
Just down the street, at the Hyatt Regency and the Millennium Hotel, the folks from the Spina Bifida Association of America, in association with the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus were busy with their annual conference. Spina Bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect, and more than 70,000 people in the United States are currently living with Spina Bifida.
Attracting almost 800 participants from as far as Hong Kong and New Zealand, the theme of “Building Bridges to Advance Understanding” offered more than 65 special presentations over four days. Topics ranged from School Problems for Children with Spina Bifida, to Hydrocephalus in Africa: Lessons for the Developed World. Subjects in many break-out sessions were targeted and limited to specific niche groups. A session on Sexuality for Adults with Spina Bifida was limited to adults with Spina Bifida, as to encourage an open and candid dialogue.
Next year’s conference is slated for Atlanta, Georgia, from June 25-29, 2006. For more information, please call the Spina Bifida Association of America at 1-800-621-3141.
Spina Bifada Association and the Paralyzed Veterans of America provided some information for this article.