U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

Feb. 17, 2009, 6:45 p.m. (ET)
In 2008, Team Semper Fi approached U.S. Paralympics in the hopes of partnering and gaining coaching assistance for its program.  Now, a year later, Team Semper Fi stepped onto the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. to host its own training camp.

Comprised of Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who sustained injuries while attached to Marine units, Team Semper Fi uses sport as a motivational tool for wounded service members.  The team travels the country participating in various athletic events. 

From Feb. 13-16, six team members participated in the 2009 Team Semper Fi "New Sport" Camp.  The team received instructions and training from Paralympic athletes and coaches with light competition following the practice rounds. 

For some, including Zach Briseno of Fort Worth, Texas and his service dog, Eve, this was their first camp. 

"I didn't know what to expect," Briseno said.  "But I was excited to be here to try out so many sports."

Other participants have been involved with Team Semper Fi before.

"I have been to a camp (in Colorado Springs) before and one in San Diego," Patrick Myers said. 

But this camp was different from those he previously attended.

Predominately participating in triathlons, Team Semper Fi has expanded its activities to include endurance sports. At this camp, the athletes participated in rowing, powerlifting, archery, wheelchair basketball and field events throughout the weekend. 

The relationship between U.S. Paralympics and Team Semper Fi began after a meeting with key leaders at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where coordinators of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, the Fund that established Team Semper Fi, were working in the Marine Liaison Unit assisting injured Marines and encouraging them to become more active. 

The relationship has since evolved into a collaborative partnership with team members being invited to national Paralympic Military Sport Camps. Held twice a year, these national camps are multi-day events for servicemen and women with physical disabilities with more advanced sport skills and an interest in competing at an elite level. These training camps are the first step to helping the injured troops achieve their goals. 

According to the Team Semper Fi Web site, "the program was inspired by those wounded Marines and Sailors who refuse to allow their disabilities to get in the way of their participating in sports as a way to move forward with their lives."

For more information visit, http://www.semperfifund.org.

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