Veterans have done their duty for the country. They have sacrificed some of the best years of their live serving the nation. Most of them are left with wounds which go much deeper than being merely physical.
Most of them apart from debilitating injuries suffer from mental issues as well. The result is often a severe kind of depression which is difficult to cure. The feelings of helplessness and dissatisfaction are hard to counter even with the best treatment.
The major concern is re-assimilating these scarred individuals back into society. Such an initiative was taken some seventy years ago. Basketball for wheel chair bound veterans was introduced in Southern California.
A beacon of hope
A time when the disabled were often considered a burden on the society, such a sport proved to be a welcome addition. People now realized that there was indeed life for those who were wheelchair bound. They too could do all things like a normal person.
Injured by a Japanese bullet in WW2, Jerry Fesenmeyer suffered spinal cord injury. At that time treatment only considered of administering penicillin and making those who were disabled lie flat on their back on the bed.
However, it seemed that doctors soon realized that rehabilitation of patients would aid in their treatment at a much faster rate. The early physiotherapy maneuvers were introduced. Playing sports was encouraged, especially basketball which made use of the upper body strength of the athletes.
Despite being unable to use their lower body muscles, paraplegics could retain their upper body strength and have an improved circulation which would allow them a longer and healthier life. It was indeed a far cry from completely wasting away lying in bed. This proved to be a beacon of hope for many.
Fesenmeyer belonged to the Rolling Devils, one of the first teams for athletes with spinal cord injuries. The event proved to be a sold out and was only one of the many similar events which followed thereafter.
Towards the Paralympics games
Wheelchair basketball is considered the pioneer sport which led to the introduction of Paralympics. Individuals who once were pitied now have the option of proving themselves to the world. They can enjoy great physical fitness and lead an active lifestyle.
Finding life and love
Playing basketball not only helped Jerry carve a better life for himself, but it even helped him find love. He met his first wife at one of his basketball games. She was a spectator like hundreds of others who had come to watch the event.
It was indeed a time when people had come to realize that even those who suffered from disabilities deserved to live a happy and fruitful life!