COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Highlighted by an affirmation from first lady Michelle Obama, 1,600 people celebrated the official opening of the 2012 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte here today at the Olympic Training Center. Hosted by the United States Olympic Committee, the Opening Ceremony took place on the Olympic Path and included a march of the 220 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans who will take part in the third annual competition from May 1-5.
The 2012 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte are hosted by the USOC and supported by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, USO, Fisher House, Daniels Fund, Anheuser Busch, AT&T, BP, Chobani and DeVry.
Additional guests for today's festivities included the participants' friends and family, team support staffs, community and military leaders, government officials, sponsors, and USOC and National Governing Body staff members. U.S. Paralympian and Army veteran John Register, who also serves as the associate director of community and military programs for U.S. Paralympics, acted as the master of ceremonies. Other event highpoints included a cappella performances of the U.S. and British national anthems by the USO Liberty Bells and an F-16 flyover by the U.S. Air Force.
"Today's Opening Ceremony was a great celebration that both delivered inspiration and evoked reflection," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. "As an organization, we're incredibly proud of being fully committed to advancing Paralympic sport and providing additional sport opportunities for individuals with physical disabilities. We're grateful to Deloitte and the rest of our partners for making this significant endeavor such a success. Let the games begin!"
Along with a touching message from the first lady, other remarks were delivered by Scott Blackmun, USOC CEO; Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Robin Lineberger, CEO Deloitte federal government services.
The ceremony included a torch relay that ended with the honorary torchbearers, retired Army Lt. Melissa Stockwell (Chicago, Ill.) and Capt. Simon Maxwell (Croydon, England) of the Royal Marines, lighting the cauldron.
During the course of this week, five U.S. Armed Forces teams (Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard and Special Operations) and a United Kingdom Armed Forces team will face off in six sports, including archery, wheelchair basketball, cycling, swimming, track & field and sitting volleyball. Both the OTC and the U.S. Air Force Academy will be used for competition.