The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) racing team participated in three separate race events Aug. 14-15 as part of the U.S. Handcycling Series RHI Sports Indianapolis Handcycle Omnium.
Geoff Hopkins, PVA’s associate director of sports and a paraplegic handcyclist, placed second in his division in the two criterium events. Joe Beimfohr, a bilateral transtibial and hip disarticulation amputee and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, placed third in his division. The overall winner, Dane Pilon, is a bilateral transfemoral amputee.
“We usually have quite a few amputees, as well as spinal cord and other disabilities,” Hopkins said.
PVA’s racing team is open to paralyzed veterans and any other veterans with disabilities. The organization receives funding — with some from organizations like U.S. Paralymics — to pay for veterans’ participation in these events, including flight, car mileage reimbursement, housing and registration. Next month, PVA will head to Greenville, S.C. for the handcycle division of the USPRO Cycling Championships.
According to event materials, the goal of the PVA’s sports and recreation program is to improve the quality of life of paralyzed veterans and others with disabilities by expanding opportunities in sports and recreation. Handcycling is Hopkins’ own passion, and he uses the sport as a way to get veterans more involved in fitness and wellness events.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there for veterans and others to participate in handcycling. We encourage anyone and everyone to try it,” he told O&P Business News. “Use all the tools of therapeutic recreation.”
PVA provides these opportunities for people like Beimfohr.
“I hope that our sport continues to grow and that not only disabled veterans but also people with disabilities will be willing to try going for a ride just once and see if it changes their life the way it did for me,” Beimfohr said. “I have learned that some of the best therapy doesn’t occur in a hospital and I hope more veterans and people with disabilities will be willing to try a sport and see for themselves.”
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