Endeavor Games Athletes Compete to Win

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More than 300 disabled athletes and some 700 supporters convened at the University of Central Oklahoma June 5-8 for the 2008 Endeavor Games. Citizens of 30 U.S. states, Mexico, and Panama competed alongside current and former members of the U.S. military. Athletes took medals in powerlifting, archery, swimming, track and field, shooting, tennis, boccia, table tennis, and wheelchair basketball.

However, competition isn't the core of the Endeavor Games. Training clinics throughout the weekend brought together athletes and coaches from every event to learn new sports and finesse established regimens. Event coordinator Shelley Ramsey affirmed, "The most important thing about the Games is the opportunity to come and learn about different sports that athletes can compete in and add to their training. We've always been proud of the fact [that] we have novice athletes competing and training beside elite athletes and learning from those elites."

The Endeavor Games were founded by sporting-event organizer Katrina Shakley 11 years ago when she recognized a need for more multisport competitions for disabled athletes. According to Ramsey, the Games attract competitors through grassroots efforts that are mainly made possible by volunteers, projects such as the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, and industry sponsors. The major sponsor of the first Games in 1998 was Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, Bethesda, Maryland, which Ramsey said took "a major part in spreading the word" about the Games. Hanger remains a Gold-Level sponsor, and the Games' industry co-sponsors now include the U.S. Paralympics; Otto Bock HealthCare, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Photograph by Randy Richardson, Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics.