Monday, May 26, 2014

Update From Ashley!

Some of you may have already seen through Instagram and Facebook that Jeremiah had the opportunity to participate in the Valor Games Southeast last week. This was not an event we had been planning on attending but rather one we found out about two weeks before it started. Since it was fairly close and it should be completely paid for, we thought it would be good for Jeremiah to have the competition practice. 

Last Sunday we were still debating on whether we wanted to go because we found out earlier in the week we would have to pay for our hotel room, and we did not know if we would be paying for our food as well, since I was going with Jeremiah. 

We decided to go and headed out on Monday to drive up to Durham, North Carolina. Gabe went with us to the event and it was great for him to take part in it. One thing we learned though from having him go with us is that Gabe won't be going with us to the Warrior Games in Colorado. The days were too long and after the first little bit of watching Jeremiah, he lost interest. Any takers for Gabe sitting this fall?? :) 

When we arrived, the hotel staff said that our room had actually been covered! They gave us tickets for breakfast all three mornings and passed out warm cookies. The room being paid for was a big, unexpected blessing! The Valor Games staff was also super helpful and went above and beyond to make the athletes feel special. They also ended up having lunch for all of us each day and the hotel had a delicious dinner for us each night. 

Day one of the Valor Games had the competition at the University of North Carolina in the basketball arena. That arena was HUGE! They had sitting volleyball, boccia ball and air rifle going on all day. Jeremiah competed in air rifle shooting on Tuesday morning. He did a great job and felt like he really improved his score from when he shot at the Air Force trials in April. It was a different competition than the trials because they did not have classifications or categories and because it was in the arena with the rest of the events. For those who don’t know, during air rifle competitions, the room must be quiet with little to no sound. Even the clap is supposed to be a polite, golf type clap and you can only clap for a quick second after each competitor’s score for the round that is called out. But like I said, Jeremiah did a great job even with all the noise and distractions. 

 The second day of competition was in archery, indoor rowing and table tennis. These events took place at Duke University. The part of the campus we saw was beautiful! We also had the opportunity to meet Coach Mike Krzyzewski, head coach for Duke’s basketball team and a chance to check out the Duke Athletics “Hall of Fame”. 

Competition for the indoor rowing and table tennis were held in the basketball arena and archery was right outside. Jeremiah competed in archery in the morning and indoor rowing after lunch. He shot his recurve bow, used the arrows he had fletched in Air Force blue and white and shot rounds at both 10 yards then 25 yards. Jeremiah did great in both rounds of shooting. He finished up in 3rd place at 25 yards shooting against both recurve and compound archers. For the Warrior and Invictus Games, he will only shoot against other recurve archers. After lunch, we headed into the basketball arena for Jeremiah to try out indoor rowing. In indoor rowing, you are racing against other athletes for 500 meters. He also did well in this event. We think Jeremiah’s time was 2:05 but did not see his placement against everyone else. 

The final day's events were held at a beautiful park not far from our hotel. Jeremiah competed in hand cycling against a lot of other athletes. The course was a tough 9.3 mile ride, up and down hills as well as over some man-made speed bump covers. Again, Jeremiah did pretty well, finishing up in 8th with a time of 54.35. After the race was over, a lovely black snake slithered up onto the course right next to me. No thank you! One of the men caught it to get it out of the road but Gabe kept wanting to touch it. Such a boy! Once the excitement from the snake died down and all the other events were done, we had a delicious BBQ lunch and headed home.

It was a super busy few days but I am glad we had the chance to be a part of the Valor Games this year. It was a great time for Jeremiah to train, we met more great people and learned about more resources available to Jeremiah. Another event we learned about is a training camp taking place in Warm Springs, GA this next week. When we heard about it being so close, Jeremiah jumped at the opportunity! Hopefully it will be a good time of making new friends and training. 

I am sorry we did not let anyone know about this event beforehand. I tend to be a bit paranoid to let the world, aka social media, aware that we are away from our home. Yes, we do have someone staying at our home watching all our animals, but I still do not like to say anything about being gone. And as much as we would have loved seeing friends at some point on this trip, these events keep us running the whole time and I don’t know when we could have gotten away. At this particular event, the security was a bit funny and they would not let me or Gabe in the area with the athletes on day one. I made sure to get a name badge on day two so no one would think we were hobos off the street. :) Not every event is like that so if you would like to know more about coming to watch an event or to see if we could meet up, let me know! I will call or email you with more details. We will be in West Point, NY and Colorado Springs, CO before either of the games this fall. 

Thank you so much for all the support! We are excited for all the things to come this summer! 

Ashley & Jeremiah

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