Air Force Veteran George St. Hilaire of Sanford, Maine, and patient of the Manchester VA Medical Center, water skiing on Johnson’s Pond in Coventry, R.I., Tuesday, July 18, 2017, during the VA New England Healthcare System’s Summer Sports Clinic, hosted by the Providence VA Medical Center and the Boston VA Health Care System.

St. Hilaire has been participating in the special rehabilitation-related sporting clinic for so many years, he said he lost count. “What would keep me away?” he wondered, when asked what brings him back year after year.

“I’m just blown away by everyone here. When I get home, I feel much better than when I left.”

Support for water skiing was provided by LOF (Leaps of Faith) Adaptive Skiers from Sandy Hook, Conn. Approximately 50 disabled Veterans travelled to Rhode Island for the clinic July 17 through 20 which features adaptive sporting events including water skiing, cycling, golf, kayaking, sailing and deep-sea fishing.

Air Force Veteran Debra Doucette

“The Summer Sports Clinic is a very powerful event for the Veterans and volunteers,” said

Dr. Susan MacKenzie, Providence VA Medical Center director. “It helps participants change their focus from activities they might think they can’t do anymore to a wide range of things they can do, and it builds camaraderie as experienced participants share the challenges they’ve overcome.”

Air Force Veteran Debra Doucette of Salisbury, Mass. and patient of the Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center, leads volunteer Mary Kate Conroy of Walpole, Mass., along the Greenway Bike Path in Coventry, R.I., during the Summer Sports Clinic cycling event.

This was the third year Doucette participated in the special rehabilitation-related sporting clinic. “I grew up playing sports, and this gets me out of the house and helps me connect with people,” said Doucette.

“These bikes provide better balance. I have a son with a disability, too. He can’t ride a standard bike, but he took to this kind right away.”

Support for cycling was provided by Northeast Passage of Durham, N.H, and Bike-On of Warwick, R.I.

Killingham water skiing

Air Force Veteran James Killingham

Air Force Veteran James Killingham of Providence, R.I., and patient of the Providence VA Medical Center, water skiing on Johnson’s Pond in Coventry, R.I.

This was Killingham’s second year participating in the special rehabilitation-related sporting clinic, which he said he found, “Empowering, invigorating and gratifying!”

(Photos by Winfield Danielson)

About the author: Winfield S. Danielson III, served in the United States Army and is a Public Affairs Officer at the Providence VA Medical Center.

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Published on Jul. 20, 2017

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One Comment

  1. Mickey Dale Euliss July 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    How do I find out more about the New England summer sports clinic?

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