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San Diego Summer Sports Clinic Brings Veterans From Around The Country

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Aired 9/19/11

The VA in San Diego is hosting its fourth annual Summer Sports Clinic for injured veterans this week, and the event is attracting veterans from around the country.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego is hosting its fourth annual Summer Sports Clinic for injured veterans this week, and the event is attracting veterans from around the country.

Dana Cummings gives instructions to a group of veterans at the Summer Sports Clinic.
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Above: Dana Cummings gives instructions to a group of veterans at the Summer Sports Clinic.

More than 100 disabled veterans have found a way to get to San Diego for the week long sports clinic. Some have lost limbs, some have less visible injuries.

Tristan Heaton runs the event. He tells how blind veterans have learned to surf and vets with no legs have become expert kayakers. He says some vets have learned to run again after suffering traumatic brain injuries that seriously undermine their balance.

"We had three traumatic brain injury veterans last year running down the track and at different times one or all three would be laying down on the track because they fell over," he said. "But no matter how much time it took them, they wanted to be faster than the person next to them."

Heaton says reawakening the competitive spirit works wonders for vets who thought they could never compete again.

Kerry Sprouffske is a San Diego Navy vet who suffers from a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable muscle spasms. She used to love running and as soon as she heard about the clinic, she signed up.

"I got accepted and I was just overjoyed at the thought that I’m now going to have help at finding an activity that I can do - maybe find a group that I can get together with to do these activities who wont look at me like ‘oh my gosh what’s wrong? or try to call 911 if I fall," she said. "I'll feel more accepted."

The vets will run at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, kayak in Mission Bay, surf at La Jolla Shores, sail in San Diego Bay and cycle along the Silver Strand.

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