Category Archives: blindness

Warrior Games 2015

The greatest athletes in the world are not those with big-name endorsements or their own line of footwear. You don’t see them on the news or critique their performance around the water cooler. The greatest athletes are the strong and resilient men and women of our nation’s armed forces, both active duty and retired, who gathered to compete in the 2015 Warrior Games. These competitors have faced life-altering changes due to injury and illness, yet have refused to be defined by their disabilities or limited by barriers.

Sean spent the month of June training for and competing in the 2015 Warrior Games held in Quantico, VA. He earned a gold medal in tandem cycling, a silver medal in the 400 meter run, and seven bronze medals in various track and field and swimming events.

During the Warrior Games the true value of adaptive sports and competition is evident. The athletes challenge their bodies and minds in ways they didn’t think possible after injury. Running on prosthetic legs, or tethered to a sighted guide, swimming with one or more missing limbs, racing on recumbent or tandem cycle, driving down the basketball court in a wheelchair with a fierce tenacity of a warrior.

For these athletes competition is not about winning, it’s about making huge strides in their personal recovery and refusing to be defeated by life-changing injuries and illnesses. Their spirit and persistence is truly inspirational to witness.

The changes I’ve seen in Sean this past year are incredible. He has improved energy, stamina, and a new outlook on life. When he is training and competing he is not held hostage by pain or depression and anxiety, he is part of a powerful team. For me, the greatest accomplishment is his fight to overcome his physical and mental hurdles to participate in adaptive sporting events. To me, and to our, family that’s worth all the gold medals in the world.

cycling

Sean and pilot Richard Kirby compete in the tandem cycling race (Photo credit SPC Ambraea Johnson)

finish line 2

Team Army sweeps gold, silver, and bronze (Photo credit PFC Anh Siev)

Army visually impaired cycling teams finish together to take the gold, silver and bronze in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico June 21, 2015. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

Army visually impaired cycling teams finish together to take the gold, silver and bronze in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico June 21, 2015. (DoD News photo by EJ Hersom)

cycling podium

Team Army tandem cyclists take the podium (Photo credit SPC Ambraea Johnson)

shotput

Shotput (Photo credit PFC Anh Siev)

800 meter

800 meter run (Photo credit Ronald Wolf)

shotput podium

Visually impaired shotput medalists (Photo credit PFC Sandy Barrientos)

chairmans cup

Team Army wins the Chairmans Cup presented by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Photo credit SGT 1st Class Christophe D. Paul)

DSC_0960

World War II Memorial

Additional Photos:

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2032060/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVCSvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030726/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVCt_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030730/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVDBflViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2030752/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVDQvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2028781/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVENPlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2024562/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVEjflViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2020401/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVE3_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2020439/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVFh_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2021157/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZVFpvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2017002/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZVF_vlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2015504/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVGpvlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2028327/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVG-vlViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/1998162/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVHb_lViko

https://www.dvidshub.net/image/2031098/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZVIWvlViko

Videos:

Cycling

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/411225/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWaFvlViko

Sean appears at approximately 1:30, 2:45, and 3:55

Track and Field

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412758/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWVpvlViko

Sean appears at approximately 0:55, 1:35, 2:00, 2:20, and 3:30

Swimming

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412729/2015-department-defense-warrior-games#.VZWZIflViko

Sean appears at approximately 2:50 and 3:55

DoD Warrior Games 2015

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/412834/department-defense-warrior-games-2015#.VZWXGPlViko

Sean appears at approximately 0:15, 1:27, 1:53, 2:38, and 5:20

Media:

Fort Hood Sentinel

Army takes 9 medals in cycling at DoD Warrior Games

http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/story.php?id=16081

DVIDS–Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

Army cyclists roll their way to the podium

https://www.dvidshub.net/news/167733/army-cyclists-roll-their-way-podium#.VZWZxPlViko

Video: Cycling – U.S. Army Veteran Sean Johnson – 2015 Warrior Games

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/409423/cycling-us-army-veteran-sean-johnson-2015-warrior-games#.VZVAyPlViko

Video: 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games WTC Version

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/409422/2015-department-defense-warrior-games-wtc-version#.VZWT6flViko

For more information on the Warrior Games visit:

http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2015/0615_warriorgames/

https://www.facebook.com/WarriorGames

https://www.facebook.com/ArmyWTC


Blinded Veterans Share Stories at ARVO Conference

IMG_4606

Blinded Veterans Association Operation Peer Support participants Matt Slaydon, Shianti Lee, Tom Zampieri, Tim Hornik, Sean Johnson, Steve Baskis, Glenn Minney, and Don Gagliano

IMG_4610

Terrell Davis, former Denver Broncos running back, spoke about the impact of traumatic brain injury

In May Sean and I attended the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) national conference in Denver, Colorado. Sean was one of three veterans who represented the Blinded Veterans Association’s (BVA) Operation Peer Support on a panel addressing traumatic brain injury and vision loss.

These veterans shared their personal experiences with brain injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan and how their vision was ultimately imapacted. They were joined on stage by researchers and medical professionals who have extensive experience with brain injury and vision loss.

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis spoke briefly about his experience with TBI due to his injuries on the football field and the impact on his life. He encouraged participants to continue to research brain injury, especially for military service members.

Throughout the weekend we attended other sessions to learn about ground-breaking research and life-changing technology.

To learn more, folllow these links:

Brain injuries get closer look at Denver conference

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/lifestyle/health/brain-injuries-get-closer-look-at-denver-conference

Vision and Traumatic Brain Injury in Veterans and Athletes

http://www.arvo.org/Annual_Meeting/2015/Program/Vision_and_Traumatic_Brain_Injury_in_Veterans_and_Athletes/


Finding Hope in a Darker World

This is a story from American Veteran written by our friend Liesel Mirelli about our friend Dorian Gardner.  We had the pleasure to meet them both at the Blinded Veterans Association Convention in Las Vegas this summer.

Finding Hope in a Darker World Story begins on page 34.


White Cane Safety Day is October 15th

White Cane Safety Day is a national observance in the United States celebrated on October 15th of each year since 1964. The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.

Here are some tips as published by the BVA:

What to do When You See a Blind Person

When you address a blind person, identify yourself immediately so there is no mystery as to who you are.

Speak directly to a blind person so the individual can follow your voice.

Don’t assume that a blind person is unable to participate in certain activities. Let that person make the decision.

When guiding a blind person, offer your arm for assistance. A blind person can anticipate your movements by walking slightly behind you.

When you’re leaving … say so.

It’s okay to use words like “look,” “see,” and “blind.” Avoiding them may make a blind person self-conscious.

Offer understanding, consideration, and friendship to a blind person – not pity!

Caution a blind person about ascending or descending stairs, curbs, or obstacles.

Offer assistance when you see a blind person trying to cross a busy intersection, but don’t be discouraged by a “No, thank you.”

Offer to read newspapers, magazines, and other printed material for a blind person.

Let blind people speak for themselves – they don’t need interpreters.

When speaking to a blind person, don’t raise your voice. Remember, that person is blind, not deaf.

Don’t distract a guide dog from his main purpose of safely leading his master. Ask for permission before petting.

Guide Dog Etiquette from Guide Dogs for the Blind