TOMAH, Wis. (WEAU) -- The third annual Hero Games brought adaptive veteran athletes to the VA Medical Center in Tomah this afternoon.
While the afternoon was all about competing in fun events like table tennis, archery and a tough obstacle course, two athletes told me about how adaptive sports saved their lives.
Cheering on a fellow competitor, powering through each obstacle, and rolling through the finish line
In the third annual hero games, and many other competitions across the nation, Lia Coryell and Ervin Mulkey are athletes, something neither of them thought they would call themselves again
"The first thing that was asked was, ‘do you have your athlete number?’ says Mulkey. “And I was like oh okay, I am an athlete, I can do this.”
"I wasn't a client, I wasn't a participant, I was an athlete, and that switch in my mind was huge,” says Coryell. “That changed my life."
And while the games encourage fierce competition between local veterans
For Lia and Ervin, it's all about being there, spreading the word, saving lives and getting others involved in the community that gave them hope
"It's not that I want to win ping pong or bowling or whatever, it's about showing up on the line,” says Coryell. "You don't know whose life you can help just by being there, just by representing.
“If I can save my life, there's somebody else out there that I can help bring into the adaptive sport that it may save their life,” says Mulkey.
And both Lia and Ervin have already started training, and do plan to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in 2018.