WIESBADEN, Germany - Members of the Warrior Transition Unit-Europe had no shortage of takers on an offer to play wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball with them at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center July 6.
"You are certainly an inspiration to me and for anyone who wears a uniform," said Col. David Carstens, commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, at the kickoff of an Adaptive Sports Scramble and barbecue with members of the WTU-Europe. Carstens, along with several other Wiesbaden Soldiers and civilians, joined in the games.
Among those who also joined in the game of wheelchair basketball was teenager Derek Williams, who participated in the event with his brothers Darren, 16, Daniel, 14 and David, 12, and their friend Andrew Murray, 16.
"I wanted to support wounded warriors," Williams said. "I wanted to experience not using my legs. It makes me appreciate my legs more."
One of the best wheelchair basketball players was Spc. (P) Christopher Guidry, a member of the WTU-Europe. He started playing regularly three months ago, he said, and during the game he frequently held command of the ball, brought it down the court and passed to other players.
"Wheelchair basketball is a good workout," Guidry said. "It's also a good morale booster." The game helps the unit built cohesion, Guidry said. "We're all having fun out here," he said. "It's great support."
1st Lt. Samuel Stahlmann, Executive Officer, A Company, Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe, said anyone who has ever played wheelchair basketball knows it is completely different from how it looks from the sidelines.
"It's a lot more aggressive and a lot more violent and a lot more athletic than people give it credit for," Stahlmann said.
Sgt. 1st Class James Bonner, 5th Signal Command's Equal Opportunity Officer, helped organize the event in conjunction with the garrison and the American Red Cross.
Brandy Hall, American Red Cross outreach coordinator, said the American Red Cross has a partnership with the WTB-Europe and bought the wheelchairs for the game. The organization also provided refreshments and food at the event.
Bonner said the event was very successful, and he was glad to see a large amount of participation from Soldiers and other members of the audience. The event was a good way to bring the WTU-Europe together with the garrison and the community, he said.
"This is what the warriors do to compensate for other things that they can't do, and it's very energetic," said Bonner. "I got out there myself, and it's very tough. My shoulders are killing me."