Cross country skiing made a powerful impact on U.S. military veterans last Saturday (May 5). For the third straight year, Central Cross Country Skiing took a demo to the vets, setting up a Paralympic Nordic Station for the 32nd annual Hines Veterans Games at the Edward Hines, Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital outside Chicago.
The expressions on their faces told the story – focus, strength, determination. The veterans range from all the way back to World War II and as recent as Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom operations.
The CXC Paralympic Nordic Station included a cross country simulation using a Concept 2 SkiErg, mixed in with a biathlon experience using infrared rifles.
Among the attendees watching the veterans compete was Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, an ardent supporter of the VA hospital.
“It’s remarkable and very emotional to see the impact nordic skiing has on these veterans who have sacrificed so much,” said CXC’s Yuriy Gusev. “As soldiers they have many of the same characteristics as athletes instilled in them – especially their focus on accomplishing goals.”
CXC is recognized by U.S. Paralympics as a Paralympic Sports Club working to make cross country skiing accessible to individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments. Paralympic Sport Clubs are community-based programs developed to involve youth and adults with Paralympic-eligible impairments in sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level.
CXC works in cooperation with universities, physicians, clubs, veteran service organizations and VA Hospitals, to introduce individuals to the sport and to provides training and the necessary equipment to pursue the sport.
The Hines event was a partnership between CXC and the Adaptive Sports and Therapeutic Arts division of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital is located in Maywood, 12 miles west of downtown Chicago on a 147-acre campus, offering a wide array of services to over 50,000 veterans in the region.
As a Paralympic Sports Club role, CXC does monthly clinics throughout the year at both the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago as well as in Milwaukee. CXC will also be assisting with the Military Sports Camp and Valor Games in Chicago this summer.