Invacare recently sponsored the May 2 Paralyzed Veterans of America Buckeye Wheelchair Games, which saw more than 40 veterans from Ohio and Pennsylvania compete in the games; US Army veteran Holly Koester was among these veterans.

Events included archery, bowling, billiards, weightlifting, table tennis, and track and field.

In 1990 Koester injured her spinal cord and lost the use of her legs when she was called on post for Desert Storm. According to the Paralyzed Veterans of America website, as Koester was driving to report to her new position, her car hit a temporary road and rolled over.

A year later Koester was inspired by the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and has since competed in several National Veterans Wheelchair Games and other adaptive sports. Koester’s efforts have earned her a range of medals and the site adds that several months ago, she reportedly become the first person in a wheelchair to compete in marathons in all 50 states.

Koester works as a substitute teacher in Walton Hills, Ohio, and also serves other Paralyzed Veterans’ members as the sports director for the Buckeye Chapter.

“That was my main goal when I was in the Army—to teach my country—and that’s why I wanted to become a teacher, to influence kid’s lives,” Koester explains.

Koester influenced one child’s life when she pulled up to a gas station to get gas. The woman parked next to her had a small boy in the backseat in a wheelchair.

Koester says the woman told the boy, “ ‘I want you to watch this lady because you’ll be able to do all that!’’

Koester adds, “I ended up showing him the controls and driving around for him.”

Despite several commitments, including training service dogs and teaching dog obedience classes, Koester is taking time each week to prepare for the Wheelchair Games in June.

“Even though I’m a competitive person, I’m just out there for the fun of it,” Koester says.

Source(s): Invacare, Paralyzed Veterans of America