TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa will be home this year to the U.S. Department of Defense Warrior Games, which will showcase servicemen and women as well as wounded soldiers competing as they strive to achieve despite their injuries.
- Participants compete in more than a dozen sports
- Sports include rowing, power lifting, swimming, cycling
- Event runs June 21-30
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Participants in the Olympic-style competition compete in more than a dozen sports, from rowing to power lifting.
“The first Warrior Games, I thought it was a joke,” said veteran U.S. Army Master Sergeant Henry Taylor. “I thought it was a joke until you saw everyone competing, the members of the different groups and you thought, like, whoa, this is serious.”
Taylor suffered traumatic brain injuries while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with neck, spine, and shoulder injuries. He refuses to let it hold him back.
“You don’t give up,” Taylor said. “Only time you give up is when you’re deceased.”
Taylor is part of the United States Special Operations Command Team for the Warrior Games. U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Israel Del Toro Jr is the co-captain.
Del Toro hopes his role helps to inspire others.
“I just wanted to show guys, you can still do it, look at me, I’m doing it,” Del Toro said.
In 2005, doctors never thought Del Toro would be able to even breathe on his own, let alone compete. A roadside bomb in Afghanistan left Del Toro without hands and burns to 80 percent of his body.
Del Toro said he found a reason to thrive — his son.
“I wanted to show him that if you think positive and you don’t quit, you’ll be able to overcome any obstacle that’s in front of you,” Del Toro said.
He uses that same mindset for the Warrior Games, which will be held in Tampa next month.
The public is invited to watch the soldiers compete. The events will be held throughout Tampa, including at the Tampa Convention Center.