This is a pickup game of basketball, the kind you’re likely to see at any park or playground in America. But all the players in this game are in wheelchairs. The Veterans Administration hospital invited them so they could meet with people who run other sports programs. People like Greg Joyce of Paralyzed Veterans of America. Greg is also in a wheelchair. I asked him what he says to a young man who’s lost his legs.
"It’s not so much what you say, when they’re in the hospital going through rehab and they’re lying in the bed and you come wheeling in a wheelchair, immediately you get their attention. And they’re thinking, here’s a guy who is just like me and he's going to talk to me."
Wheelchair basketball is probably the sport most people think of when they think of athletes with disabilities. But Joyce says there’s so much more they can do.
"When you get them out of the bed, and get them in the wheelchair, and you get them doing trap shooting, fishing, sky diving, scuba diving, then they realize that life has no limits."
And just how exactly do you scuba dive if you can’t move your legs?
"You may not be able to kick your legs, so they give you gloves, which is like a duck, they’re webbed. So when you move your arms, you can actually go through the water that way."
(martial arts sound effects)
The possibilities don’t end with scuba diving, the hospital brought in military trained martial arts instructors to show what can be done in a wheelchair.
Air Force Veteran Kelly Keyworth has been in a wheelchair about five years. He was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis years ago and it slowly got worse. You won’t find him on the basketball court but you will find in at the bowling alley. He says he once got picked to be in a halftime free throw shooting contest at the Rockets game. He did so bad he won’t pick up a basketball again.
"I went up there. I looked at the net and I said 'I can do this,' so I went up there made my toss. Oh man, big ol air ball. Didn’t hit the rim. Didn’t hit nothing. Then you had to listen to the crowd go awwwww. It was kinda sad."
The expo is about showing the guys all the things they can do to live their lives to the fullest despite their disabilities. The smiles on their faces show they're having a good time, but how many will actually sign up to go scuba or sky diving remains to be seen.