Ryan Major attended his first National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) last year, the Warrior Games this year and is now competing in his second NVWG in Cincinnati.
After attending his first NVWG last year, Ryan Major was so inspired that he wasn’t going to let anything stop him from going to his second. So he’s here this year in Cincinnati.
The 32-year-old Army veteran and bilateral amputee served from 2003-2010 as an infantryman. He sustained a right leg injury after being in Nov. 10, 2006, in Ramadi, Iraq. Later, he lost his left leg and had to amputate his left ring and pinkie fingers to a fungus that doctors didn’t catch in time.
He just competed in the Warrior Games in Chicago in June, and made sure he could attend the NVWG again because of the friendships he made last year and the chance to play more wheelchair sports, especially wheelchair rugby, again. Athletes, volunteers and fans all impacted him.
“I learned that there’s not really a limit to the number of people that I can inspire whether they be able-bodied or walking, as a volunteer, supporters, to even other veterans, and I am also inspired by them,” says Major, a Towson, Md., resident, who stopped to watch some of Tuesday’s table tennis matches. “It’s great to know that I’m not the only one that’s not letting my losses, not letting that define who I am and what I can do.”
This week, Major will compete in field events (shot put, discus and javelin), track events (the 100-, 200-, 400- and 800-meter wheelchair races) and wheelchair rugby.
Major has participated in plenty of wheelchair adventure sports, including snorkeling, skydiving and skiing. His favorite, though, remains wheelchair rugby.
He just wishes he could have found it earlier than three years ago. He joined the Maryland Mayhem wheelchair rugby club team and it’s his main sport.
“It’s definitely more than fun,” Major says. “I love contact sports. I grew up playing contact sports and before I found out about rugby I didn’t think that there was anything that I could do that had that same, that same feeling of hitting, of getting hit and the excitement of it. And once I found out that wheelchair rugby was a sport I could compete in, then I was full-on, all-in committed.”