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AFSPC commander welcomes AF Wounded Warriors, kicks off 2011 competition

Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate, a retired staff sergeant and Air Force competitor in the 2011 Warrior Games had an exuberant conversation with General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command and fellow Air Force competitor retired Staff Sergeant Gregory Miller, moments after they completed the a six mile cycling course at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.  General Shelton spoke with the team at their morning breakfast and then joined them for the cycling practice in the afternoon.  The 2011 Warrior Games opening ceremony is scheduled for May 16.  (Air Force photo by Duncan Wood)

Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate, a retired staff sergeant and Air Force competitor in the 2011 Warrior Games had an exuberant conversation with General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command and fellow Air Force competitor retired Staff Sergeant Gregory Miller, moments after they completed the a six mile cycling course at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. General Shelton spoke with the team at their morning breakfast and then joined them for the cycling practice in the afternoon. The 2011 Warrior Games opening ceremony is scheduled for May 16. (Air Force photo by Duncan Wood)

Technical Sgt. Israel ‘DT’ Del Toro, a competitor at this year’s Warrior Games and General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command tough out the final mile of the six-mile Warrior Games cycling course during the team’s practice at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.  The 2011 Warrior Games are scheduled  to run through May 16-28.  (Air Force photo by Duncan Wood)

Technical Sgt. Israel ‘DT’ Del Toro, a competitor at this year’s Warrior Games and General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command tough out the final mile of the six-mile Warrior Games cycling course during the team’s practice at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The 2011 Warrior Games are scheduled to run through May 16-28. (Air Force photo by Duncan Wood)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The U.S. Air Force Warrior Games team gathered for breakfast here May 8 to mark the beginning of a week of training before the kick-off of the 2011 Warrior Games.

During the breakfast, Gen. William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command, passed on thanks and encouraging words to the 23 teammates for going above and beyond the call of duty.

"To the athletes in particular, let me tell you how much we appreciate what you do," Gen. Shelton said. "One of my priorities for AFSPC is to support the joint fight. All of you have done that in a very meaningful way and have made a lot of sacrifices. You inspire us to continue to sacrifice and do what is best for the country every day."

While these warriors may have worked alongside their sister service members in battle, they will compete against each other May 16-21, in a variety of Paralympics-type events held at the Olympic Training Center.

According the U.S. Olympic Committee website, more than 200 injured servicemembers will compete in the second annual Warrior Games, sponsored jointly between the Department of Defense and the USOC. Athletes will compete in events such as, archery, cycling, basketball, shooting, swimming, and volleyball, as well as track and field, to aid their recovery and hopefully inspire new goals.

"This is an important event because a lot of times the athletes are experiencing sports for the first time post-injury or post-illness," said Cami Stock, USAF Warrior Games team head coach. "I think this is an opportunity for them to push themselves past what they expect they can do and translate that perseverance into other parts of their lives."

Gen. Shelton also joined the Air Force's Warrior Games cycling team for practice at the Air Force Academy later that afternoon.

The AFSPC commander expressed his pride in the athletes for their perseverance and bravery.

"Thank you for your willingness to inspire us and your willingness to continue to compete as you move forward," Gen. Shelton said. "I can tell you from those of us observing from the sidelines how meaningful it is to see you continue to keep fighting the fight. You really are an inspiration to us all."

Gen. Shelton also challenged Air Force members in the local area to support their brothers and sisters in arms.

"These men and women are examples of incredible resiliency and courage," Gen. Shelton said. "It's a great privilege to be here and thank every one of them for their service and sacrifice, to tell them how proud I am to serve with such outstanding professionals. I encourage all Air Force Space Command members to attend next week's events to support these heroic members of our Air Force family."

For current event schedules and more information about the 2011 Warrior Games, go to www.usparalympics.org or www.woundedwarrior.af.mil.

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