The realities of war are often quite harsh and saddening. Those that haven’t stepped foot in the unpredictable hell of combat will never know what it’s like. There are currently 6, 456 red blooded Americans that’ll never get to share their story of combat from Iraqi and Afghanistan with us or their loved ones, having lost their lives on the field of battle. However, there are currently 50,181 soldiers that served their tours, before being wounded in the fog battle. Their stories and challenges won’t make the daily news, but the stories must be told. For the soldiers of Joint Base Lewis-McChord their wounds of war include shrapnel, burns, brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. One of the problems that weighs heavily on soldiers’ minds while on patrol in unforgiving terrain is the well hidden improvised explosive device. For Danny Biskey, 29, a former Army Sergeant, now wounded warrior, his life changed in November 2009.
While Biskey, an infantryman with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, was patrolling the violent Arghandab Valley region in Afghanistan he stepped on an anti-personnel mine and lost his left leg. It just so happened that the bomb sniffer dog, a canine handler and his squad leader on the mission all stepped over the mine and were not injured in the blast.
While at the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Fort Lewis, Biskey came across a highly motivated and eager Metro Parks employee by the name of Parker Ayer, an Adaptive Recreation Specialist. “After I got injured in Afghanistan I was at the Wound Warrior Battalion. It was there where Parker Ayers found me. He kept bugging me and encouraging me to come out and play wheel chair basketball, I really wasn’t interested at first,” said Biskey. Ayers, like a relentless college recruiting coach trying to get next LeBron James on wheels, stepped up the encouragement process after he got word that Biskey had recently been involved in the Warrior Games in 2010 and 2011, and earned gold. “After Parker heard about me playing in the Warrior Games he continued to encourage me to come out and play, so I finally came out to play, and now I am playing all the time now,” said Biskey.
“After Ayers persistence on getting Biskey involved in Adaptive Recreation the rewards are ever presence when Biskey is on the floor with his new band of brothers. “Biskey is a great example to wounded warriors and others with disabilities not letting their situation define them, but embracing it with courage and warrior ethos. He works hard in practice and is committed helping his fellow team members, challenging them on the court every game. He is an awesome leader and we are proud to have him in our program and a part of our mission,” said Ayers.
Heading the Adaptive Recreation Program mission is Kodi Smith Doty. “The goal of the program is to keep those with physical disabilities physical fit. We provide training opportunities weekly as well as competitions. We are all inclusive, so those that don’t have a necessary disability can be involved in our recreation league,” said Doty. Adaptive Recreation reaches outside the lines of the basketball court and ventures into other sports such as archery, track and field, goalball (indoor soccer for visually impaired athletes), kayaking, swimming and sitting volleyball. For soldiers coming back from war, leaving the mission because of injury can be tough to cope with, but Smith is passionately devoted to creating an environment that still embraces the mission of health and wellness.
“The mission is to help soldier to heal through their transition by using sports and recreation and different opportunities to meet other people in the community that may have similar disabilities. On base their mission is to retrain, returned to duty or retires. We are here to find sports to keep them active and fit and help them in their transition to whatever it may be,” said Doty. In every program there is always a need for support, Ayers knows that is a key element of the success of Adaptive Recreation.
“The support staff is really the life blood of this program. We encourage people to get involved in on different level, like coaching, technical support or just administration stuff behind the scenes. There’s really a place for everyone, hands on with athletes or behind the scenes,” said Ayer.
If you’ve been looking for a way to support our country’s brave and honorable wounded warriors learn more about Adaptive Recreation at www.metroparkstacoma.org/Adaptive. They served us, now it’s time to pay it back. Watch the video of this article here.