Paralyzed Veterans of America’s sporting events are a major part of our organization. Our events keep our members active and engaged and help our members rejoin the community. We offer a broad range of events including indoor activities like bowling and bocce to outdoor activities like fishing and shooting. Giving our members quality programs ensures that they keep a healthy and active lifestyle. Without the help of our dedicated volunteers, committed to helping veterans have the best experiences, these events would not be possible.
Our events require a lot of planning and coordinating at a National and chapter level. We spend countless hours preparing quality events for our members and for the disabled community. There are many components to putting on quality events including logistics, venues, food, lodging, and most importantly, volunteers and manpower at the event.
Each required task is as important as the next. Big or small, they are what makes each event a success. Some of the many tasks include helping our wheelchair athletes with their gear, handing out food, taking our disabled community fishing on their boats, baiting a hook, making sure our athletes stay hydrated, to being there cheering them on and giving them words of encouragement.
There is a need for any and all types of help. “One memory that I won’t forget was being able to help one of the Vets with his hair. On both days I was asked to brush it out and put in a ponytail,” quotes a volunteer from Florida.
We solicit volunteers from many walks of life and many different skill sets. We have had boy scouts, other veterans’ organizations like the VFW and American Legion, motorcycle clubs, businesses like Home Depot and UPS, to active duty military, spouses, friends, neighbors, and people just wanting to give back. And even though they are helping our disabled veterans stay active, the rewarding experiences they bring back with them are life changing.
“No matter my issues or problems are, volunteering for Paralyzed Veterans is so uplifting that I forget all of my issues and feel so proud to give back a little to those who gave so much for me.”
One of our volunteers from our Citrus Slam Bass Tournament says, “I volunteered for Paralyzed Veterans of America for seven years and I wouldn’t miss the chance to help out for anything in the world. I have my own personal problems and issues in my life but when I come work and socialize with the Paralyzed Veterans, my problems seem petty. These men and women are so inspirational and uplifting with their good spirits, great attitudes, and positivity that it makes me jealous. I want to be like them and live. No matter my issues or problems are, volunteering for Paralyzed Veterans is so uplifting that I forget all of my issues and feel so proud to give back a little to those who gave so much for me.”
“For some of us who did not serve in the military, being able to contribute at a Paralyzed Veterans’ event is one of the small ways we can give back to those who did…I cannot imagine an event that is as mutually beneficial to the participants and volunteers as one hosted by Paralyzed Veterans.”
A long time volunteer from Illinois says, “I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I was involved with Paralyzed Veterans. If you told me it would change my life, I don’t think I would have believed you. It’s a great cause, but even greater people working toward the mission.” He continues, “Helping out with PVA events has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. For some of us who did not serve in the military, being able to contribute at a Paralyzed Veterans’ event is one of the small ways we can give back to those who did. I have been going to Paralyzed Veterans’ events for more than a decade. I have made lifelong friends, and had fun I never could have imagined. Not once have I ever left having had a bad experience. I cannot imagine an event that is as mutually beneficial to the participants and volunteers as one hosted by Paralyzed Veterans.
Our chapters are also very grateful and dependent on volunteers for their events. One chapter states, “Volunteers are essential to the success of our programs and to the well-being of our athletes. The volunteer involvement also opens the doors to creating a more inclusive community our athletes will thrive in.”
Another chapter says, “Volunteers make our mission. Every unit needs a support staff to ensure continuity throughout the program. Volunteers are the backbone of every event – period. I appreciate the strong network of volunteers throughout our state.”
So how do you get involved? Reach out to our local chapters as there is likely an event coming up in your area. Spending a weekend with our disabled veterans is
a rewarding and life changing experience. Donating your time is priceless and it not only benefits the disabled veteran, it benefits the volunteer and helps build the community.
“If you think that you are just going to help a bunch of people in wheelchairs that can’t help themselves, you obviously need to experience volunteering at Paralyzed Veterans of America…”
Original article written by Alan Earl, Associate Director of Sports and Recreation at Paralyzed Veterans of America. For more information about our Sports and Recreation programs offered at no-cost to disabled veterans, please visit pva.org/sports.