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National Veterans Wheelchair Games kick off in Tempe

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jul 07, 2022

TEMPE — Hundreds of our nation's finest have descended on the Valley this week for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. They're making final adjustments to their equipment, registering for their competitions and getting final workouts in at the ASU training Complex. Veterans Roy Wilkins and Brian Conwell, like so many others in Tempe Thursday, are here to win.

“I was mad at the world at first after what happened to me, but I gave up being mad,” said Wilkins.

In November 2004, Wilkin’s life was forever changed while serving with Army special forces in Afghanistan.

“I didn’t remember anything, only thing I remember was a blue flash,” said Wilkins.

A roadside bomb would nearly take his life while on mission. Emerging from a coma two months later with his right leg amputated above the knee. The lifelong athlete was in a dark place until a conversation with a friend provided new purpose.

“She said Roy have you ever been to the games, I said no, what’s it about, and she says it’s about 50 states and 20 countries with service men who have injuries like you and maybe it could benefit and help you,”

It didn’t take long for the former Clemson Football Player, who won a national championship in 1981, to go all in.

“Once I won that first silver medal, I got a motivation, hey maybe there’s something to this,” said Wilkins. “I have over 250 medals.”

There’s certainly no shortage of inspiring sights this week. Brave soldiers injured who in service to our country, are finding new hope through competition camaraderie.

“Pain is temporary, quitting is forever, fight through the pain and never quit, those are the moral values that you have to have as a disabled athlete,” said Army Veteran Brian Conwell.

Conwell’s legs were crushed when a vehicle he was driving hit black ice while on duty. Doctors said he’d never walk again. His first thoughts were of his family.

“You know, how do you play with your kids now, how do you do certainly things with your family, that’s what continues to run through your mind,” said Conwell.

Not only can he now walk with the assistance of prosthetics but will compete for gold in discus, shot-put and power lifting.

“It’s absolutely amazing. I have my second purpose back in life,” said Conwell.

That’s the whole purpose of the games. Demonstrating the unstoppable character of the hearts and minds of every one of these heroes.