By [email protected] () The 2014 Warrior Games officially opened today at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, highlighted by a march of the more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans who will compete in the fifth annual competition. With 2,000 people in attendance, 2014 Paralympic sled hockey gold medalists Paul Schaus (Buffalo, New York) and Rico Roman (Portland, Oregon), both Purple Heart recipients, lit the cauldron to signify the start of the Games, which features athletes from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command competing in seven sports through Oct. 3.
“It’s truly humbling to share my Paralympic medal with these athletes and see them smile,” said Roman, who is taking the season off from competitive sled hockey. “I hope that Paul and I inspire these men and women to pursue their Paralympic dreams after competing at the Warrior Games. I hope this is just the beginning for them. It’s fun to be a part of this experience with all the different branches but of course, I’m rooting for Army.”
Roman, a retired Army staff sergeant, had his left leg amputated above the knee after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device while serving his third tour in Iraq in Feb. 2007. A father of two, Roman was introduced to sled hockey by Operation Comfort, an organization dedicated to assisting injured U.S. service personnel at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Following a gold-medal performance at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships and a second-place showing in 2013, Roman went on to make his Paralympic debut at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, where Team USA became the first nation to successfully defend a Paralympic title in sled hockey, beating Russia 1-0 in the gold medal game, aired live on NBC.
“It was an honor to be selected as one of the torchbearers for the Warrior Games,” Schaus said. “It’s a great privilege to be out here with everyone who is competing. My advice to these athletes is to chase your goals. Take it one day at a time and never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You can do whatever you want to do.”
Though retired Marine Corps Corporal Schaus is entering just his third season with the No. 1-ranked U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, he is already a force to be reckoned with for Team USA. Two-time world champion Schaus had both legs amputated above the knee after being injured by an improvised explosive device while on a rural patrol in Afghanistan in June 2009. While undergoing rehabilitation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Schaus was introduced to sled hockey and he immediately found a passion for the sport. The determined veteran played two seasons (2010-12) with the USA Warriors, an organization that provides ice hockey programs to injured service members, before shifting his efforts to a full-time performance with Team USA.
Source:: Air Force Space Command