Walt Disney World hosts 2022 Warrior Games

Disney World Warrior Games
The public is invited to attend the free competition.

When Disney World shut down during the pandemic, every day security raised and lowered the American flag — just like always —  in the empty Magic Kingdom.

“We have a special connection to those who served in the armed forces,” said Josh D’Amaro, the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, who retold that story Friday night during the Warrior Games’ opening ceremonies. “It started with our founders.”

Walt Disney enlisted in the Red Cross Ambulance Corps in World War I while his brother, Roy, served as a Navy Petty Officer.

In that spirit of service and patriotism, Walt Disney World Resort is hosting the Department of Defense Warrior Games this month.

Returning for the first time in the pandemic, about 300 wounded, ill and injured active-duty and veteran service members will compete in Paralympic-style indoor and outdoor sporting events held through Aug. 28 at Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Disney has never hosted the games before.

The public is invited to attend the free competition where the athletes compete in everything from cycling, archery, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, powerlifting and more. 

The Warrior Games first began in 2010 to “showcase the resilient spirit of today’s wounded, ill or injured service members from all branches of the military,” according to the military. “These athletes have overcome significant physical and behavioral injuries and prove that life can continue after becoming wounded, ill or injured.”

Leading the opening ceremony Friday night was comedian and advocate Jon Stewart who was fresh from what he called a hard-fought victory to pass legislation to expand health care and benefits to veterans exposed to toxins. President Joe Biden signed the bill last month, which helps veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It was a long fight. There were many moments when it looked like this thing was going to go south, and it wasn’t going to happen but we never gave up,” the former Daily Show host told the crowd of athletes as well as their families and supporters. “It’s a shame that it took us this long but it happened because of your resilience and your spirit and the inspiration you gave to everybody fighting to get this done. Thank you.”

To see the schedule of Warrior Games, visit https://www.dodwarriorgames.com/games/schedule/.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


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