Clearwater, FL (CW44 News At 10) – “When we started incorporating in 2015, we wanted to focus on getting veterans out and being active, and one of the best ways to do that is with recreational sports,” said a US Marine Corps veteran and CEO of Wounded Warriors Farm Abilities, Mike Delancey. He has a passion for helping other veterans.
“I joined the United States Marine Corps in 2004,” Delancey said. He was seriously wounded during the military fighting in Iraq. “September 1St In 2006, I was on a foot patrol and was shot by a sniper. When I got out of the hospital, I was almost paralyzed from the bottom of the chest. From there, I started to get out and had a very strong support base from family and friends kind of kicking my ass to get out of the house and get things done. I found adaptive sports to be great. And I started instructing the other veterans and telling them the same thing.”
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On Tuesday, his nonprofit joined forces with the Mike Alstott Family Foundation ahead of Veterans Day to host a wheelchair football game. But it wasn’t just the veterans who participated. Some of the players in wheelchairs were local police officers and other first responders who wanted a chance on the field as well.
“It kind of shows them what we’re going through in the game and from our perspective, it really grows the sport. When people are sitting in the chair and they feel what’s going on, they become more connected to it and they want to come and watch us play,” Delancey said. “It’s not just sports, it’s about getting around people with a similar injury, and learning how to do things.”
We even got a chance to catch up with former Tampa Bay ex-Mike Alstott, who coached the bout with his son, Griffin, in the middle.
“We get together, the veterans come in, we usually have a game of flag football in a park and we spend quality time with each other and have some food like we do now,” Alstott said. He says he was pleasantly surprised by the audacity and competition. “They get really competitive, and even with the chairs here, I mean you’ve had guys flip around and do this and that and I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ But they’re like, ‘Lift me, let’s go!’ So it was so amazing. So grateful to the veterans.”