The MedStar National Rehabilitation Network Paralympic Sport Club officially launched its adaptive rowing program on Sunday. Several disabled U.S. veterans competed for the team at the Stonewall Regatta held at the Anacostia Boathouse in Southeast D.C. Navy veteran Paul Hurley is working to qualify for the Paralympics. He lost part of his leg while serving in Bahrain in 2006 and says the program changed his life. "For a while I wasn't working out and just sitting in my room. It wasn't healthy. You know this is great. I've got friends here I can hang out with and it's taken me all over the country too."
The head coach of the MedStar NRH team is a disabled veteran himself. Patrick Johnson works with the athletes year round at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and helps make sure they have the specialized boats they need to compete. He says, "One guy tells me it's great when he shoves away from the dock because he doesn't have legs, but when he's on the water he doesn't remember he doesn't have legs. He's just like any other rower."
The program is one of the first of its kind, and the team will soon have two brand new boats donated by the Semper Fi Fund.