Families are important motivators for competitors. This is why they are always present at the Invictus Games.
The Invictus Games Foundation’s welcome event took place as part of the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing. A meeting of celebrities and politicians with pleas about the importance of families.
The event was marked by impressive and touching descriptions of the fates of individual soldiers. Together with their wives, husbands and children, they told how they were able to overcome their impairments through the Invictus Games.
One of them is Stefan Huss, who took part in the Invictus Games in Toronto for the first time in 2017. A year later in Sydney, he was a team captain and frequent competitor in cycling, discus throwing, archery and sitting volleyball. This year, Huss is back as an ambassador of the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023.
When he came home from a mission in Afghanistan in 2013, he felt “that something was wrong with me. Something had happened to me”. Stefan Huss went to the doctor to get help. He was suffering from a trauma. Sport helped him to get his problems under control.
His wife Evelyn accompanied him to the Invictus Games: “I realised there that he had a chance to come through the situation. For me, the Invictus Games also mean that I can exchange ideas with other persons affected. I’ve made a lot of friends who I can talk to anytime, who understand me because they know the situation”.
Garret, who served 28 years in the US Air Force, also explained how he survived thanks to sports. In 2016, an aneurysm in his brain burst; it was life-threatening. “After that, everything was different”, Gerrit, who has been married to Joey for 30 years, told me. They have a grown-up son. “I had to learn to speak, disturbances of memory, problems to hold the balance and chronic pain, among other things”. Sport was already a focal point in life before the setback. Garret kept going and was accepted into the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program in 2019.
Dominic Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the Invictus Games Foundation, mentioned the spirit of the movement and welcomed the nations. He also gave a special welcome to Nigeria, Colombia and Israel, who are participating for the first time. “It’s great to be in Düsseldorf”, he said, and expressed his gratitude to the host city of Düsseldorf and the Games’ sponsors.
Dr Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, Member of the German parliament, was pleased that the Invictus Games are finally taking place in Germany. “There are 21 nations taking part here, we can learn a lot from each other”. For example, how other countries deal with their wounded and impaired servicemen and women and how families are involved in the rehabilitation process as motivators and supporters.
The Ukrainian Colonel Andrii Kikh was welcomed with great applause. He is the head of the Military Medical Clinic in Kyiv, responsible for treatments and rehabilitation. “Young people want to defend our country”, he said. “So we do our best when they are sick and injured. Sport supports the medical and physical therapies.
For example, 27-year-old Maxim, who was injured in a bombing in 2015, managed to join Ukraine’s wheelchair basketball team after six months of hard training. Maxim is eagerly awaiting his first appearance at the Invictus Games on Tuesday (10:05 a.m.) against Canada.
Author: Monika Hartjes
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