Warrior Games Kick Off In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of veterans and active duty members were in Chicago on Friday for a unique Paralympic-style event.

CBS 2’s Sandra Torres shows us what the Department of Defense Warrior Games are all about.

For Ryan Shannon, competing in the Warrior Games is still a surreal thought.

“I was told I wasn’t going to be able to run again, things like that. So being able to compete at a level that big, that high, it’s mind-blowing. It’s shocking,” he said.

The 30-year-old Navy veteran from Morris, Illinois, suffered from a brain injury, a broken left foot, and post-traumatic stress disorder after eight years in the Navy.

“I thought everything was over. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do any kind of team sport again, and now I’m out here co-captain of the Navy team,” he said.

Shannon is one of 265 athletes – all with a military background – who are competing in the event taking place at McCormick place, the United Center, and Soldier Field through July 8.

“We have seven teams this year. This is the most teams we’ve ever had,” Warrior Games director Brent Breining said.

There are representatives of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Special Operations Command; as well as members of the British and Australian defense forces, according to Breining.

Several of the athletes, including Shannon, also are training to join the U.S. Paralympic team.

The event began eight years ago, but this is the first time it is being held outside a military base.

From sitting volleyball to track and wheelchair basketball, the adaptive sports are giving these men and women a new purpose.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that people have come up and told me this program has changed my life. Their new normal after their injury or illness sometimes sets them back,” Breining said.

Though the first handful of games were held Friday, the Opening Ceremony isn’t until Saturday evening at Soldier Field, featuring performances by Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson.

Jon Stewart, former host of “The Daily Show,” is hosting the Warrior Games.

Tickets for the Opening Ceremony start at $20, but if you’d like to check out any of the events this week, it is open to the public for free.

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