Norfolk, Virginia - The Wounded Warrior Team Navy Trials begin June 4 in Norfolk, Va., as seriously wounded, ill and injured service members face off in archery, shooting, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
The trials - which take place at Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk State University and Virginia Wesleyan College - run through June 7. They also will include cycling; track and field; and sitting volleyball competitions.
"I'm excited to see where I stand, and how I stack up against the others here," said Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Donald Jackson, who was diagnosed with a serious illness. "It's a fun experience, and I'm happy I'm here."
Jackson, who hails from Kent, Washington, is new to competitive adaptive sports. He is taking part in archery and cycling competitions.
Sixty-five wounded warrior athletes are battling for a place on the Team Navy roster at the fifth annual Warrior Games Sept. 28 - Oct. 4 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. More than half of the trials participants have never before competed at the Warrior Games.
"I'm so happy to be here. There are a lot of new people, so we're making new friends," said retired Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sonny Lemerande, a Warrior Games veteran who was wounded in combat. "A lot of us [returning athletes] are moving on to other competitions and making room for new faces."
Lemerande, who is from Twentynine Palms, California, will take part in field events, shooting, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball competitions. He says he most enjoys the camaraderie of the team sports.
Throughout the coming days, medals will awarded to the top three athletes in the events or heats within each sport. The athletes selected for Team Navy will be contacted after the Wounded Warrior Team Navy Trials with an official invitation.
The trials are hosted by Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) and Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) - Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program.
"Meeting these athletes for the first time, hearing their inspiring stories, and witnessing firsthand their teamwork, is something that everyone needs to experience," said Navy Capt. John Malfitano, CNRMA Fleet and Family Readiness program director.
"I never thought, after all I've been through, that I wouldn't be afraid to show my injuries," said retired Navy Seaman La'Mar Linton, who was wounded in combat. "It's made me realize that my injuries are part of who I am now."
Linton, who lives in Portsmouth, Virginia, will compete in track and field. He credits his fiancee, Tiffany, with inspiring him to participate in the trials and stay positive.
NWW coordinates the non-medical care of more than 2,500 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and provides resources and support for their families. NWW is sponsoring Team Navy at the 2014 Warrior Games.
To access the full schedule of events, visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil. The latest news also will be posted on Facebook at www.facebook.com/navysafeharbor.