The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 29, 2012

Wheelchair athletes compete at Spire

HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Track, weightlifting and swimming were just a few of the sports on the docket for the first edition of the Buckeye Wheelchair Games at Spire Institute this weekend.

Athletes began arriving Thursday and competed Friday and Saturday at the indoor sports complex.

Organizers said it was great to have the games in one facility that didn’t involve regular transportation like the games former site at Ohio State University.

“It is under one roof. When you are on the Ohio State campus there is always traveling,” said Sharon Moster, executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Buckeye Chapter.

“We have close to 50 athletes,” Moster said.

Changing sites also created a larger market for the games, Moster said.

“It became a little more regional,” Moster said of athletes from Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania that joined those from four Ohio sites.

“It’s great to have a chance to get these guys out,” said Ashley Trimble, public affairs coordinator and representative of the Cleveland Veteran’s Assistance.

Competition was a big part of the event, but so was mutual respect and caring, organizers said.

“They are here competing against each other, but they are cheering each other on (as well),” Moster said. She said it is hard for wheelchair athletes to compete against “able bodied” athletes, but they thrive on the events.

“The veterans have little groups that work out all year long,” she said of the competitors.

“We like this competition. She (Celeste Phelps) and I go back and forth all the time,” said Jacquelyn Tyler of Dayton. The pair fist bumped after each lift.

Tyler said she trains three days a week and is aiming for a national competition to be held in Virginia.

“This weekend has been fantastic ... next year we will be bigger and better,” said Carl Harris, president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Buckeye Chapter. He said the event is open to any disabled athlete not just veterans.

Athletes competed in air gun target shooting, archery, bowling, track and field, billiards, a slalom course, swimming, table tennis, boccia and weightlifting.

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