9/22/2010 - SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AFNS) -- Sitting in a kayak, gliding across the water, Richard Worlitz was at peace. Here, there were no boundaries, no limitations. And limitations are something he is very familiar with.
An Air Force veteran, Mr. Worlitz is both visually and physically handicapped. He lost his vision six years ago and, shortly after, his right leg below the knee. But today, these handicaps aren't slowing him down. Instead, Mr. Worlitz is taking part in the 2010 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic here, a program designed to bring disabled veterans together and let them experience a variety of sports activities. These events include kayaking, cycling, sailing, surfing and track and field activities.
"It's just been a great experience so far," Mr. Worlitz said. "I've been able to try new things and do other activities I haven't been able to do for a while."
According to the program's coordinators, this is exactly why the clinic was started.
"This clinic encourages lifestyle change, exercise and a can-do attitude among the participants," said Ralph Marche, the kayak venue activity lead. "Basically, it shows them that they can accomplish more than they thought and that they aren't handicapped, but 'handicapable.'"
Throughout the clinic, which is sponsored by the Veterans Administration and runs through Sept. 24, participants take turns each day trying out a new activity. Mr. Worlitz spent the first day throwing javelins and discus at the track and field facility, paddled Mission Bay in a kayak his second day, and was planning to catch some waves on a surf board day three.
"It's awesome," he said.
This is the summer sports clinic's third year and its goal is to give veterans with disabilities an opportunity for self development and challenge through education and recreational activities. The clinic is open to military veterans with orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, certain neurological conditions, visual impairment and other recently incurred disabilities.
But, disabilities or no, the clinic is also about good old-fashioned fun. Which is something Mr. Worlitz is perfectly fine with.
"One of my favorite quotes is 'Get busy livin,' or get busy dyin'' and that's exactly what we're doing out here," he said.
For more information about the summer sports clinic, visit http://www.summersportsclinic.va.gov