Veterans from across the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SGVHS) participated in a cycling event as part of the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

The National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic has expanded to offer more Veterans across the nation an opportunity to participate virtually or with hands-on Adaptive Sports-rehabilitation in their neighborhood.

“The object of the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic is to get Veterans out and about participating in adaptive sports safely,” said Katie Blunk, Adaptive Sports coordinator. “This year’s cycling event features a 30-mile round trip ride on adaptive cycles provided by the Wounded Warrior Project.”

“Since starting adaptive cycling, I feel healthier and stronger.”

“We introduce them to leisure activities and sports like cycling, surfing, sailing, kayaking and adaptive fitness,” said Stefan Wickli, a recreation therapist. “Veterans can also benefit from participating in adaptive sports programing virtually as well. We offer things like yoga, meditation, nutrition, cooking, and therapeutic arts to accommodate almost anyone’s interests.”

Air Force Veteran Harry Carr says that participating in the adaptive sports program and the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic has been life changing. “Since starting adaptive cycling, I feel healthier and stronger,” he said. “I feel like my life has a purpose again.”

Staff helped me get out of my comfort zone

Navy Veteran Ramon L. Maldonado has been participating in Adaptive Sports for more than two years and feels that being able to cycle has helped to improve his overall mental health.

“Adaptive cycling has been really great for me,” Maldonado said. “It has really helped to improve my quality of life. The staff have really been instrumental in getting me out of my comfort zone and trying new things. It has made all the difference.”

This year, the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic experience was tailored to bring Adaptive Sports and fitness to Veteran’s hometowns and homes.

The At-Home activities and in-person clinics focus on promoting rehabilitation through adaptive sports and recreational opportunities.

“The Adaptive Sports program is extremely important to our health system,” said Llona Schmalfuss, chief of staff. “It helps Veterans connect with their comrades, engage in friendly competition, and develop new skills and confidence. We are very proud of the Veterans who participated in the cycling event in Jacksonville.”

Veterans interested in the adaptive sports program can contact their health care provider and ask that a consult be entered.

Follow @sports4vets  on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

By Melanie L. Thomas is a public affairs officer for the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System

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Published on Sep. 28, 2021

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