The Heart of Volunteering AT the Warrior Games

Volunteering at the Warrior Games

The Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games, which is an annual celebration of the resiliency and dedication of wounded, ill, and injured military members, is not just a sports event; it’s a beacon of hope and recovery. For volunteers, it’s also a chance to be a part of something inspiring and amazing. 

The 2024 Warrior Games, set to take place from June 21-30 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, promises to be another remarkable chapter in this ongoing story of triumph and teamwork. Volunteers will once again play a crucial role in facilitating the event and supporting the athletes on their recovery journey.

Volunteering is more than just a helping hand; it’s a heartwarming journey of support and solidarity. At the Warrior Games, volunteers like Mitchell Colvin find a profound connection with the event, resonating deeply with the athletes’ courage and determination. Mitchell’s experience at the 2023 Warrior Games was a whirlwind of activity, camaraderie, and inspiration. 

“Volunteering at Warrior Games is important to me because my father is a disabled veteran,” he shared. 

The sight of veterans competing and overcoming their challenges reminded him of his father’s strength and the significance of the Games for everyone involved. Mitchell describes his volunteering experience as a “shotgun blast of behind-the-scene work” paired with witnessing “extremely competitive athletes.” 

It’s a testament to the intense preparation and the fierce spirit that defines the Warrior Games. The event is a culmination of the participants’ involvement in adaptive sports programs, showcasing their incredible potential through competitive sports.

One moment that stands out for Mitchell was the closing night, which was a celebration of success and solidarity. He recalls a conversation with a Marine athlete, a two-time participant, who expressed gratitude for the experience. 

“Even though it’s highly competitive, at the end of the day, all the athletes support each other,” the Marine said. This sentiment captures the essence of the Warrior Games: fierce competition on the field, unwavering support off it.

Mitchell urges others, “Don’t be afraid of talking to the athletes because most of them enjoy talking to others about their experiences before, during, and after the Games.”

The Warrior Games are more than a display of athletic prowess; they symbolize the unyielding spirit of our service members. Volunteering at such an event is not just about the tasks at hand; it’s about being part of a larger narrative of resilience and recovery. It’s about honoring the journey of our wounded warriors and standing with them as they reclaim their strength and redefine their limits.

Megan Murdock, a seasoned volunteer, began her volunteer journey with the Invictus Games, which profoundly impacted her career and volunteer work. Megan’s involvement with the Wounded Warrior Abilities Ranch (WWAR) in Tampa Bay and her introduction to Wheelchair Football through WWAR’s connections highlight the community’s interconnectedness.

Since her first encounter with the Invictus Games in 2016, Megan has volunteered three times, with 2024 marking her fourth year. Her favorite sports—Wheelchair Rugby, Wheelchair Basketball, and Sitting Volleyball—reflect the dynamic range of activities that the Games offer.

Megan’s interactions with the athletes and their families have been enriching, from casual conversations to assisting during team sports. She fondly remembers meeting Army soldier JP Lane, a singer and hopeful competitor, and maintaining a connection with him and his wife, Crystal. 

Megan describes a poignant moment from the 2022 Games in Orlando where a Team Navy athlete with limited hand strength made remarkable progress in the seated shot put. The collective encouragement and celebration of each throw encapsulate the event’s essence: overcoming obstacles and cheering each other on.

As we look forward to the 2024 Warrior Games, let’s remember the impact of volunteering. It’s a powerful act that supports the athletes’ recovery and echoes the community’s appreciation for their service and sacrifice. For volunteers like Mitchell and Megan, it’s a personal and profound experience that connects them to the heroes who have given so much for their country.

In the words of Mitchell, “It may only look like a sports event, but it is a lot more to the people involved in the Games.” So, if you find yourself at the Warrior Games, take a moment to engage with the athletes, listen to their stories, and be inspired by their resilience. And if you’re considering volunteering, know that your contribution goes far beyond the event itself—it touches lives, heals spirits, and strengthens the bonds of our military community.

By volunteering, you join a community dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of our military members and aiding them on their journey to recovery.