By Dan Wing
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia will host the 34th Veterans Wheelchair Games later this summer . The massive event will be held primarily in the city, but some of the events will spill over into Camden County.
With more than 500 athletes taking part in the five days of competitions — which include handcycling,bowling, swimming, quad rubgy and weightlifting to name a few — organizers need more than 2,500 volunteers.
So the Camden County Freeholder’s Board and others hosted a Volunteer Recruitment at Temple Emanuel on Sunday afternoon.
Sonny Wimberly spent nearly three decades in service, and has earned two medals in his first two years of competition. A Camden County native, Sonny’s says he’d love to earn a 3rd medal with a “home-court” advantage, and he’s encouraging people to volunteer and help him get it done.
“Most people look down on wheelchairs, mainly because we’re short, but they don’t always understand that we were people before we got here.”
Wimberly says the volunteers help in a variety of ways:
“From transportation, getting loaded on buses to people that are going to bring water, towels, whatever’s necessary. Act as referees, act as coaches.”
Melissa Heinlein is Chief of Voluntary Service for Philadelphia Veterans Affairs. She says anyone over 14 is eligible to help, but people of all ages are invited to come out and cheer on the competitors, “and also to say thank you for their service to our country.”
Deputy Director of the Camden County Board of Freeholders Ed McDonnell says he’s hoping that volunteers will also decide to help out even after this event:
“We have a goal to make Camden County the best county in New Jersey for disabled children and adults. So this fits in.”
The event runs from August 12th through the 17th. Registration forms can be found online at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website or the Paralyzed Veterans of America website.