Creighton physical therapy faculty and students volunteered at the annual Military Sports Camp hosted by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and Wounded Heroes Foundation (WHF) during the summer.
During a three-day camp, the students assisted 45 disabled veterans with sports and wellness, aided with disability accommodation, developed skills to become advocates for individuals with disabilities, and learned about a variety of adaptive sports and equipment.
“The support these students provided is mental just as much, if not more, than it is physical,” said Shana Harrington, associate professor of physical therapy, coordinator of this experience. “Veterans, who lose hope and do not believe they can participate in a specific sport, need someone who believes they can, encouraging them to try.”
RIC Military Sports Camp accepts both veterans and those currently enlisted in the U.S. military with a primary physical disability, providing them with the opportunity to learn and try a variety of adaptive sports from elite-level athletes and coaches.
“The passion and drive the veterans demonstrated throughout the camp were remarkable and will continue to drive me to work with this patient population,” said Tanner Santarelli, a third-year physical therapy student. “I learned lessons and made personal connections that will serve me well as I progress in my Creighton education and future physical therapy career.”
Four students served as leaders responsible for directing groups of 12 veterans to their assigned activities throughout the camp. The other students provided assistance sports activities, including archery, biathlon, sled hockey, wheelchair basketball, kayaking, cycling, field, SCUBA, swimming, rock climbing, golf and judo.
“The RIC-WHF camp was a rewarding and life-changing experience for us all. I made memories and relationships with the participating veterans that will forever impact both my life and my future career in physical therapy,” said Ashlyn Brennan, a third-year physical therapy student.