Archives: 2010, 2011, 2012
April 26, 2013
THE MILITARY RACQUETBALL FEDERATION (MRF) HOST DEMONSTRATIONS IN DALLAS, DENVER, AND RICHMOND TO SUPPORT VETERANS
11 APRIL 2013 – MRF Executive Director, Steven Harper, traveled to Dallas and Denver to promote the Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics (RRC) for disabled veterans. April has been a busy month for the MRF as we toured three different cities and reached over 50 disabled veterans. Through the sport of racquetball, rehabilitation is enhanced for wounded warriors and disabled veterans through these racquetball demonstrations. Our tour began in Dallas, TX (where the MRF hosted a military racquetball tournament last year to honor our wounded warriors) but this time we visited Texas to start a new program for disabled veterans. With the support and partnership of the local chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the local VA Medical Center in Dallas, TX the MRF hosted a one-day racquetball demonstration for 26 veterans who had never experienced racquetball before. These efforts would not have been possible without the support of the Maverick Athletic Club (located in Arlington, TX with Leo Vasquez and owner - Bob Sullins) who allowed us to put on this extraordinary event. We even had the opportunity to have "Chip" Parmelly – one of the founders of wheelchair racquetball to join us for the day. His experience as being part of the Paralympic and the PAN/AM Games brought a new and rewarding insight to the veterans who participated in the event. They walked away from the clinic knowing that anything is possible with no limitations if they only give the sport a try. The MRF will be working closely with the VA and the Maverick to start an eight-week program in the Dallas area in the very near future./p>
We then traveled to Denver, CO to host another RRC demonstration for veterans from the Mountain States Chapter of the PVA. Thanks to the efforts of Donna Debacca and Mark Shepard of the PVA, Debbie Beldring of the Denver Athletic Club, and local volunteers who came from Colorado Springs, Boulder, and other surrounding Denver areas who made this one-day demonstration a complete success. Even through 9" of snow, we were honored to have the United States Air Force honor guard from Buckley AFB grace us with presenting the National Colors for this event. Richard Romero presented the MRF with a $1,000 check. Contributions were raised from various sources including, a recent tournament at Peterson AFB where numerous Airmen, Soldiers, and Marines held a silent auction and sale at the Mile High Pro/AM (product donated by major racquetball manufacturers and sponsors). Thanks to the following for volunteering their time as instructors; Michael Smalley, Joe Massa, Maylen Gaspar, Craig Clayton, Clay Connor, Christopher Brooks, Richard Romero, David Stone, Steve Nelson, and Sonny de Guzman. Overall, we had four wheelchair-bound veterans who had never played the sport before totally enjoy themselves for the demonstration. Again, these efforts are extremely difficult to host because of logistical obstacles, but at the end of the day – to see the smiles on these veterans' faces makes our efforts all worthwhile. During these travels, I have personally seen the attitudes of those involved change because of their participation in these clinics. We work with those who might suffer from substance abuse, others deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, and a wide range of negative influences, but after they participate in one of our clinics, it seems as though their problems just dissipate like the clouds roll back and the sun shines through after a hard thunderstorm….
Our last stop was back on the east coast to host our latest clinic for the veterans in the Richmond area at Fort Lee Army Base (Clark Fitness Center) as we taught 8 veterans racquetball. Special thanks to Nicole Shuman, Chief Recreational Therapist of the Richmond VA Medical Center, who personally oversaw the transportation and logistics to make this event possible; along with Mr. Andra Barnett and a team of local instructors from the Richmond area. Without the support staff, we would not have been able to hold another successful clinic.
A little worn down from these back-to-back demo's, the "Thank Yous" we receive after hosting these clinics makes it all that much more worthwhile. Most Americans think of wounded warriors and veterans as only what they see on TV (those physically disabled or amputees) but we have so many other veterans and warriors who suffer from mental despair because of their recent experience from combat. To date, through grant funding from the USOC, and our sponsors and organizations, we are making a difference by reaching over 200 veterans. Again, thanks to our sponsors; RacquetWorld, E-Force, and Ektelon, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, INC. and the USOC for their financial support to make these clinics possible. If you are interested in supporting the MRF and disabled service members, please contact us at (www.militaryracquetball.com) for more detailed information on how you might be able to assist in your local area.
March 25, 2013
MRF GRADUATES ANOTHER RACQUETBALL REHABILITATION CLINIC (RRC) CLASS IN
Durham, NC: March 21, 2013 – Thanks to the support of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Department of Veteran Affairs, MRF had another graduation ceremony for three students of the Durham VA Medical Center (DURVAMC), NC. Congratulations to graduates Ed Barry, Akitola Stokes and Catina Evans who completed the 8 week RRC program. The participants were taught the basic skills and fundamentals of racquetball with the support of the Lakewood YMCA who partnered with MRF to allow the use of their facility over the course of the clinics. This would not have been possible if it were not for the vision and support of Blaine Smith, (YMCA Sports Director) and Brad Myers, (YMCA Director). This is another major milestone for MRF as it confirms racquetball is a great adaptive sport which helps veterans who are suffering from the negative effects of combat. One graduate commented, "I am troubled from loud noises because I suffer from P.T.S.D. and this class allowed me to take control and deal with my issues". MRF is receiving testimonies like this from our RRC clinics confirming that veterans and wounded service members are dealing their combat experiences and now can re-engage back into life.
Troubling new data show there is an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department. Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don't succeed on the first attempt try again within nine month. The numbers, which come at a time when VA is strengthening its suicide prevention programs, show about 18 veteran suicides a day, with about five by veterans who are receiving VA care. The Statistics are Staggering and they will continue to rise without outreach programs like RRC. This is primary reason for MRF to continue to push and raise the awareness of adaptive sports and racquetball to veterans nation-wide.
None of this would have ever been possible without the dedicated support of Ms. Kendra Monden, Chief Recreational Therapist of the Durham VA Medical Center, Brad Myers (Lakewood YMCA Director), and Blaine Smith (Lakewood YMCA Sports Director). MRF itself would not be possible without the continuing support of our founding sponsors; the MIGHTY 6TH District of OMEGA PSI PHI Fraternity, Inc., E-Force, Ektelon, RacquetWorld, and the USOC. If you are interested in supporting MRF and disabled service members, please contact us at (www.militaryracquetball.com).
March 17, 2013
PLAY DOUBLES WITH THE PROS AND SUPPORT THE MRF
MRF's Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics programs in conjunction with IRT offers the chance to 8 people to play doubles with the pros while benefiting the RRC program.
Wounded military members & veterans are involved in programs at bases throughout the country. A $200 tax deductible donation to MRF which is a non profit 501c3 will reserve a spot in the pro-am with the top 8 IRT pros on Thursday, April 25th.
March 17, 2013
RACQUETBALL CLINIC HELD FOR DISABLED VETERANS AND WOUNDED WARRIORS
JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. – The Washington, D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), in conjunction with the Military Racquetball Federation (MRF), hosted a one-day racquetball clinic at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Fitness Center I March 12. More than a dozen disabled veterans and wounded warriors from the area took to the courts for some fun and simple camaraderie.
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February 3, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC, VA RACQUETBALL DEMONSTRATION CLINIC
TUESDAY (12 MAR, 2013) 11:00am – 2:00pm
Febeuary 28, 2013
THE MILITARY RACQUETBALL FEDERATION ANNOUCES BRAD BULECHEK (US ARMY) CHAMPION OF THE INAUGURAL RRC TEAM CHALLENGE
15 FEB 2013, Tempe, AZ: In conjunction with the USA Racquetball National Doubles Racquetball Championships the Military Racquetball Federation (MRF) hosted their first Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinic (RRC) Challenge, in which 11 disabled service members and wounded warriors, from three surrounding southwest areas. Teams from San Diego, CA, San Antonio, TX, and Prescott, AZ came to compete in a regional tournament. These brave service members recently completed an 8 week RRC program where they learned the basic fundamentals of racquetball and now had the chance to bring their skills to compete against fellow graduates. The event was a huge success not only for the competing players but for those who were exposed to and intermingled with the service members. Because of this tournament the MRF was able to raise the awareness of what service members have to endure when they return home from the battlefield. This effort was possible thanks to the team that put all this together: Steven Harper, Jack Hughes, Terry Rogers, Darold Key, and Jerry Northwood. Their countless hours of working with USA Racquetball to secure a portion of the court time for a two day period gave these service members the opportunity to play several matches in a pool play format. At the conclusion of the competition, Brad Bulechek (US Army) of Prescott AZ, was crowned the 2013 champion. He just completed the 8 week clinic program and will be transferring to the Flagstaff area to reside. Brad said having this competition was great and he really can see a difference in his overall outlook on life because of his completion of the RRC program. These efforts were brought to the attention of Neil Keene of Ability Dynamics (a local Arizona prosthetics manufacturing company) who secured two major TV stations to capture and air segments of the competition on both "Good Morning Arizona" News Channel 3 and KSAZ Fox News 10.
The MRF solidified a strong partnership with USA Racquetball by meeting and discussing further goals with the Executive Director, Mr. Steve Czarnecki. Our visions are the same, to promote the sport of racquetball while using it as a new form of rehabilitation for those service members returning home from war. Throughout the weekend, there were some true heroes who shared their personal stories with the audience. One soldier shared, "racquetball saved my life by allowing me to release pent up anger and frustration". While another service member proclaimed that "racquetball brought me and my wife closer together. My wife is supporting what I'm doing and can see an improvement in my attitude and outlook on life."
Thanks to our sponsors; RacquetWorld, E-Force, Ektelon, and the USOC for their financial support to make these clinics possible. If you are interested in supporting the MRF and disabled service members, please contact us at (www.militaryracquetball.com) for more detailed information on how you might be able to assist in your local area.
Febeuary 19, 2013
RACQUETBALL CLINIC HELPS REHABILITATE AMPUTEE VETERANS
TEMPE, Ariz. - There's a mission to help disabled service members thrive--all by picking up a racquet.
Amputee veterans took part in a racquetball rehabilitation clinic for wounded warriors at ASU in Tempe.
"We are having a lot of soldiers come back home, service members injured in combat, both physically and mentally, so what we're doing is going to the local and national VA medical centers and introducing adaptive sports to the veterans," said Steve Harper, Executive Director of the Military Racquetball Federation.
Since it started in 2008, 320 veterans and service members have taken part and 28 have graduated from the class, which is an eight week racquetball clinic.
Harper says they learn the fundamentals of the game, but it's much bigger than that.
"It is getting them back active in life, dealing with PTSD, stress and anger management issues that they're dealing with at home," said Harper.
Instructor Rich Sainz, played racquetball for the University of Arizona.
He's an amputee and now he helps train other vets how to use their prosthetics.
"Who cares about your hand and your leg, you give it the best you can you go out and you have fun you don't worry about what anyone else thinks or says about you. That's what it's about," said Sainz.
The winner of the regional competition was a US Army veteran from Queen Creek.
"I hope to come back and defend the trophy next year. It's a great foundation, I appreciated the time and effort they put in for us to set some time aside for veterans to play some racquetball," said BRAD BULECHEK, with the U.S. Army.
"All of these folks have given some more than others but they've all made sacrifices for us for our freedom for our country," said Sainz.
"We're not doing this because we're here to gain something, we're here to give back," said Harper.
The racquetball rehabilitation clinic has visited 15 cities so far.
The program is sponsored by the United States Olympic Committee and received a grant from the organization last November.
Febeuary 19, 2013
RACQUETBALL HELPING WOUNDED SOLDIERS TRANSITION TO CIVILIAN LIFE
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A national racquetball tournament at ASU is lending a court to help the wounded warrior program.
"A bunch of military guys trying to show everybody else that we can also play no matter what kind of injuries we have," said Jacob Delagarza, who is a "double" Purple Heart recipient.
The humble Delagarza lost his left leg during battle in Afghanistan in 2011.
"That just means the enemy got me twice, everybody takes it differently, but I'm here and I'm still fighting," said Delagarza.
He's fighting now on the racquetball court instead of the battlefield, in a program created by retired US Navy Lt. Commander Steven Harper.
It's called the Military Racquetball Federation and it helps wounded soldiers like Delagarza rebuild their strength and their psyches.
It's a philosophy mirrored by local prosthetic entrepreneur and amputee Rich Sainz, who was thrilled to rally a bit with the decorated Delagarza.
"He brings an awful lot of inspiration even to myself, having been an amputee my whole life, it's a privilege and honor to work and help run these clinics and to help be a part of it and I'm inspired by people like him," said Sainz.
"I'm always a happy person so it really doesn't affect me, but other guys like to take their anger out there and they leave it in the court, it helps a lot of people out," said Delagarza.
January 22, 2013
THE MULTNOMAH ATHLETIC CLUB PRO-AM
APRIL 25-28 / PORTLAND, OR
January 22, 2013
ONE DAY DOUBLES SHOOT-OUT
FEBRUARY 9TH / LAS VEGAS
- Las Vegas Athletic Club - Maryland Parkway
- Benefitting the Military Racquetball Federation/ Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinics
- Men's start at 9am
- Mixed start at 12:30pm
- $20 for USAR members
- $25 for Non-USAR members (entry fee includes USAR membership for this event)
- All proceeds go to benefit the MRF.
For more information - contact tournament directors: Jack Hughes, Terry Rogers & Mike Coulter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 702-413-7269
January 6, 2013
MRF GOES TO LONG ISLAND AND NEW JERSEY TO SUPPORT VETERANS
NEW JERSEY & LONG ISLAND; 14 DEC 2012 – Recently MRF visited veterans in the Long Island (Northport VA Medical Center) and New Jersey (Warren – Lyons Campus VA Medical Center) during December to promote the sport of racquetball. With the momentum of growing the sport and using racquetball to help veterans with their rehabilitation; we were able to visit two separate facilities to reach out to a new group of veterans in the Northeastern region.
This week long trip started in Long Island, NY – visiting the Northport VA Medical Center for veterans. At the Eastern Athletic Club (located in Dix Hills, NY) - MRF hosted a one-day demonstration with the help of Betsy Johnson (Manager) and Susan Dupre (Club Service Director). With the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy and a little reluctant to host this demonstration due to much repair and recovery that is still needed to be done to the city. The demonstration went over well. This clinic is much part to teaching and assistance of Rob Arluck from the Manhattan NY area, who took the "L" train (an hour & 1/2, one way trip) to assist with clinic. The coordination and hard work of getting the veterans to the clinic goes to the help of Dom Dachille (Recreation Therapist – who promoted the demonstration throughout the surrounding clinics and Vet-Centers). Without Dom's help, this one-day clinic would not have been possible. To Dom, Rob and the supporting staff at the Eastern Athletic Club – all of us at MRF say Thank You for allowing us to assist with the veterans in your area.
The following day (Friday) – we transitioned / commuted (2hr road-trip) to the town of Hillsborough New Jersey where MRF was able to host another demonstration to 13 veterans of the Lyons Campus VA Medical Center. The success of this event is contributed to the NJAR members to roll out the red-carpet for the veterans to feel welcomed! Thanks to Ryan Chesterman of the VA Medical (Recreation Therapist – responsible for getting the veterans to the event), but moreover without pouring support of NJAR – this event too would not have been a success. We have to sincerely Thank – HRC Hillsborough Pool Racquet & Fitness, Joe Camiolo (NJAR - President), Scott Mateyka, Gloria Fidecaro, Nancy Luyando, and Mike Hurling (who will be the lead instructor for the RRC at the New Jersey Campus) who made this event possible. The New Jersey Amateur Racquetball Association took an extra initiative by having one of their own (Trevor Mateyka) who started a program to collect slightly used racquets to donate the RRC program. Trevor had the idea when he came to visit the Fort Myer Crew in November timeframe and came up with the idea of Operation "Closet-Clean Out". This is another testimony that the RRC is moving strong. Both facilities (Long Island and New Jersey) will start teaching veterans within the next few weeks. MRF goal is to have a regional racquetball tournament in Washington DC this spring – but we will see what the possibilities might lead to. Again – THANKS to our sponsors; Ektelon, E-Force, RacquetWorld, and the USOC for their financial support to make these clinics possible. If you are interested in supporting MRF and disabled service members, please contact us at (www.militaryracquetball.com) for more detail information how you might be able to assist in your local area.