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The NWPVA power soccer team facing off at the National Games

Participation in sports is the best physical therapy for catastrophically disabled veterans. NWPVA will continue to sponsor veteran athletes to attend regional and national events, such as the National Veterans Wheelchair Games soccer tournament pictured above.



Performances by NWPVA Board Member, Joe Sapienza

In February of 2016, Lindsey Boisvin, a self-described Aspiring Public Relations Specialist contacted NWPVA President, Tom Bungert to request permission to produce a short video about the Chapter for a project she was planning.

Lindsey Boisvin is a graduating senior at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Boisvin collaborated with NWPVA for a photojournalism class where she was required to tell a story of a community typically underrepresented in the mainstream media. She works as a Sustainability Communications Intern at the UW, and also does freelance journalistic writing. You can view Lindsey's photographs on her professional website here: Lindsey Boisvin and more of her video work on her YouTube channel here: Lindsey's YouTube Channel

This video features a voice-over by Tom Bungert, who describes some of the sports programs available for paralyzed veterans, and a story about how the program had helped an individual member. Tom, a quadriplegic veteran, is seen talking and moving around in scenes with Joe Sapienza, while Joe demonstrates the mechanics of two indoor sporting activities - table pool and bocce ball.

NWPVA is grateful for the interest taken by Lindsey in our organization and chapter with the production of this excellent video.

If you would like to know more about the Sports Program at NWPVA, please call 206.241.1843, or visit our blog at: nwpva.org/blog


Soccer players in action at the Richmond games

The Northwest Paralyzed Veterans of America (NWPVA) takes great pride in sponsoring catastrophically disabled veterans to compete at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. The games are held annually in different parts of the United States. In addition to disabled American participants, there is also a team from Great Britain that competes each year. While there are other national wheelchair games held throughout the country, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games are co-presented by the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, making it the largest event of its kind in the United States. The veterans compete in over 18 wheelchair sports events. Veterans have been known to use these events to prepare for competition in the Paralympics. One of the most popular and growing events at the games is power soccer, as it's the only team oriented sports event for people in power wheelchairs. NWPVA takes great pride in supporting the local University of Puget Sound Power Soccer Team by training and sponsoring participants at no cost.

All team oriented sports events teach veterans valuable lessons, and these are passed on to other individuals with disabilities through continual participation and support in a variety of sporting activities as coaches in the general community. Year after year, NWPVA has found ways of introducing sports to the community, such as Boccia, slalom, air rifles, power soccer, basketball, rugby, trap shoot, fishing, and a variety of other activities. The slalom event builds life skills that non-disabled people take for granted and pushes veterans through a rigorous obstacle course of skill and endurance. After crossing the finish line, each participant is filled with a powerful sense of accomplishment!

NWPVA also helps sponsor catastrophically disabled veterans to attend the National Disabled Sports Clinic, an extremely valuable event. It provides critical tools for veterans to rebuild confidence and regain balance in their lives. Veterans take the knowledge and skills they achieve in these clinics and pass them along to their local communities, and encourage other people with disabilities to realize that nothing is impossible. NWPVA has been instrumental in the progress sports clinics have achieved throughout the region.

Just imagine, for a moment, a child in a wheelchair during school recess, sadly watching as other children run around and play. The Northwest Paralyzed Veterans of America is working hard to make this type of heartbreaking scenario a thing of the past by continually striving to achieve the goal of providing all people with disability a variety of adaptive, competitive sports and activities. One good example is Boccia, now a Paralympic sport. NWPVA is working especially hard to shoulder the expense of participating in this sport, so that any disabled person can showcase their skills, at no cost to them. We arrange sports clinics throughout the Northwest through the Veterans Administration and PVA so that veterans and others can train and push themselves to be the best they can be.

People with disabilities who play sports learn that anything is possible, and those witnessing their participation in these events realize that limitations are only state of mind!

A sledge hockey team resting on the ice
Sled Hockey Team

NWPVA Soccer Team at the 2013 National Wheelchair Games - Tampa, FL
2013 National Wheelchair Games - Tampa, FL

NWPVA 2007 National Wheelchair Games Team - Alaska
NWPVA 2007 National Wheelchair Games Team - Alaska

A young guy racing in an angled wheelchair
Wheelchair Racer

A wheelchair soccer player at the national games Controlling the ball at the National Wheelchair Games


By Tom Bungert

Rolling Thunder Team with gold medals and trophy

NWPVA members have learned how to play power soccer at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games as an expedition sport. Their love and passion for this game grew it into a medal event, the first team-oriented sport at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games. This passion spread from participation at the games to sponsorship of the University of Puget Sound Power Soccer program. NWPVA has provided vital financial support to promote community sports programs. A power soccer team named Rolling Thunder started in 2005 and flourished as a result of this chapter's commitment and determination to involve other veterans in the sport. This extremely exciting, fast-paced game is spreading like wildfire and players travel great distances to compete!

Power soccer has been the only team-oriented sport available in the Northwest for people confined to wheelchairs and owning a power wheelchair is the only requirement for participation. There are no other requirements and people of any age or gender may join a team, which might consist of people with ages ranging anywhere from 12 to 70 years old.

NWPVA is aware of the instrumental role power soccer plays in teaching crucial life-lessons, such as teamwork, communication, sportsmanship and group learning. They are four players from each team on the court at a time, including a goalie, left-wing, center, and right wing, who work together to move the over-sized soccer ball into the opponent's net for a score. One of the most important game rules is maintaining adequate distance from one another, to avoid losing possession of the ball. A referee could penalize a team for violating this rule, called a "two-on-one", and award the ball to the other team when players from the same team are too close to each other, the ball and a single opponent.

NWPVA played a vital role in the training of the Rolling Thunder team players in preparation for tournament competition. Their closest competitors have been the Canadians, who invented the game in 1985 as something to do for fun. In the first two years of competition Rolling Thunder ended up in last place in division, but they played their hearts out. After a few more tournaments they were a team to be reckoned with. They outscored the Canadians 50 goals to 0 over a 5 game span and came home with the gold medal!

This success was not just on the field, but spilled over to daily life as players started to attend college, get jobs, and inspire new and upcoming players. NWPVA has set a goal to sponsor and support a Seattle-based team, and it is slowly coming along. Power soccer is a win-win situation for everyone, on and off the court.

Rolling Thunder gets together the first and third Monday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at Life Manner in Tacoma, WA. There is a winter break from mid-December to the beginning of March.

Click here to view a flyer with more information about how to get involved, and please visit the Rolling Thunder website at: http://www.rollingthundr.org.


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