Prince Harry recently announced that the USA had taken up the challenge of hosting the next Invictus Games. The 2016 Games will be held in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from 8 to 12 May 2016.
The Invictus Games are an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports including Wheelchair basketball, Sitting volleyball and Indoor rowing.
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (March 16, 2016) – Marking the 50-day countdown until Invictus Games Orlando 2016, presented by Jaguar Land Rover , ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex welcomed several Invictus Games 2016 competitors and officials today for an exclusive tour of the venue at Walt Disney World Resort that will be home to the Invictus Games 2016 Orlando. This is the first time international and US team officials will meet face-to-face as representatives of their countries. In anticipation of hosting 500 athletes from up to 15 nations, this tour commemorates an important milestone in preparing for the Games and ensuring all competitors and their families from across the globe feel welcomed once they arrive in Orlando.
“We will be humbled and honored to welcome this May more than 500 men and women from around the world who have made unmeasurable sacrifices to protect and defend their countries,” said Faron Kelley, Vice President of Disney Sports. “Whether you are from France, the United States or Afghanistan, these men and women have one character trait in common – they are all undefeated. They are Invictus. We look forward to welcoming these heroes and their families to Orlando in May as we celebrate and honor their service through the power of adaptive sports.”
To honor and celebrate local competitors who are competing with the 2016 U.S. Team, ESPN Wide World of Sports hosted retired Chief Petty Officer Javier Rodriguez of Orlando and Retired Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry Sawyer of Callahan, FL at the St. Louis Cardinals-Atlanta Braves spring training game. During the game, fans cheered on Petty Officer Rodriguez and Retired Petty Officer Sawyer as they threw the first pitch to celebrate the Braves’ 19th spring training season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Petty Officer Rodriguez enlisted in the United States Navy in 2002. In 2011, he was the victim of a hit and run accident, sustaining severe trauma to his legs. He battled through extensive surgeries, the removal of his left leg and intense physical therapy. From those experiences, he became involved in wheelchair basketball, which he will compete in at the 2016 Invictus Games.
“After sustaining my injury, adaptive sports gave me the courage to overcome my day-to-day challenges,” said Veteran Javier Rodriguez. “I look forward to competing in the Invictus Games, so that I can show my wounded brothers and sisters that life goes on – they will recover. It’s important they know that we are Invictus.”
Petty Officer Sawyer, also a U.S. Navy veteran, served two tours in South America prior to sustaining his injury. Following his retirement and injury, he pursued wheelchair rugby, which helped to inspire recovery and rehabilitation. Prior to his injury, he played football in high-school and for a semi-professional team in Jacksonville, Fla. As a result of his passion for wheelchair rugby, Petty Office Sawyer has won medals at the Warrior Games and National Veteran Wheelchair Game.
“I am an athlete who proudly competes for my country in hopes of inspiring my fellow wounded servicemen and women to embrace the healing power of adaptive sports,” said Retired Petty Officer Henry Sawyer. “The tour of the complex helped me envision what it will be like to compete alongside of hundreds who also embody the Invictus spirit. I’m looking forward to representing my nation in front of thousands of fans.”
Rodriguez and Sawyer are just two examples of the inspirational servicemen and women who will be competing in May and show how the power of sport can inspire recovery and support rehabilitation.
Fans can go to http://invictusgames2016.org/tickets/ to learn more and buy tickets. The Invictus Games Orlando 2016, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will take place from May 8-12, 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, Kissimmee, FL.