Posted: 9/29/2016 | By: Florida Park Service
THONOTOSASSA, Fla. - On August 20th and 21st, Hillsborough River State Park hosted their first Swamp Stomp, an obstacle course mud run. Over a thousand people came to Hillsborough River State Park to join their friends, family, and neighbors as they fought their way through 32 obstacles stretched across 4 miles. Participants came from all over to join in this first ever experience in one of our own state parks. One group of participants was the VIP Warriors, a group that engages and encourages veterans with disabilities to partake in athletic activities. As a result, many veterans participated in the Swamp Stomp and had a great experience. The camaraderie of this event highlights the aspect of accessibility we all hope to achieve, facilitating an inclusive atmosphere for all.
A few words from the VIP Warriors:
"VIP Warriors is a central Florida/ Tampa Bay wounded veteran athletic organization that engages wounded veterans and their families of all branches and combat eras, in the participation of endurance sports. All levels of athletes are welcome. Veterans helping veterans through the healing process through the camaraderie is of training and competing in endurance sports, to include triathlons, cycling, marathons, mud run/obstacle courses.
"It's better than a therapy session" a wounded veteran quote.
"I never thought I'd be able to do this ever again. thank you" a quote from an amputee combat wounded veteran.
"Thank you for giving me my wife back" quote from husband of a service connected veteran.
VIP Warriors was founded by Karla Malone, a mom to a combat wounded Naval service member and an Air Force service connected veteran. She is the daughter of a Korean War Navy Veteran, sister of a Navy and Army veteran. Her passion started while volunteering at Bethesda Naval and Walter Reed Hospitals beginning in 2006. Her passion for engaging the wounded veteran community continues to change lives of wounded veterans and their families.
VIP Warriors Who Participated in the Swamp Stomp Event:
Major Ken Corgliano- Air Force-traumatic brain injured veteran. Still active duty
Joseph Neal- Retired Navy Captain
Wendy Major- Retired Army mechanic-wounded veteran, pending amputation of leg below he knee
Timothy Piper- Retired Marine-wounded veteran single leg above the knee amputee
Kelly Smith- Retired Navy Medic-wounded veteran single arm amputee
Adam Allen- Army wounded Veteran
Yarelis Colon- Daughter of a wounded veteran, student nurse and military bound
Karla Malone- Mom of 2 wounded veterans. daughter and sister of veterans.
VIP Warriors Testimonial:
" This event was unique in that most of the obstacles were natural and just a few man made. There was plenty of swamp, mud and water. "Real Florida!"
We were told that we would: "Experience what it's like to be in a tortoise borough, crawl like a catfish and leap in the water like a frog", and we did!"
Some of the takeaways were:
- One's initiative an determination play a big role in overcoming all obstacles as an individual and as a team.
- Personal canes proved advantages in supporting, pushing and pulling teammates through obstacles.
- Climbing hay bales is not as easy as it looks. A flying leap works best!
- For obstacles that require height, teammates with a strong back and shoulders are critical to success.
- Falling forward is still progress
- You don't need two arms or two legs to be successful. It's more about how you use what you have. Your teammates are there to assist when and if you need it.
Twenty plus obstacles and three hours later, we crossed the finish line as a team, arms locked together, muddy and wet, but all sporting big smiles of accomplishment!
Many thanks to a great Hillsborough River Park Staff, all the volunteers and fellow participants and spectators! Well done!"
To learn more about the VIP Warriors, visit their webpage at: http://www.vipwarriors.org and on Facebook: vipwarriors
For more information about upcoming events at Florida State Parks, please visit the events page here. If you are planning to attend an event and require accommodations, please complete an accommodation request form, to see a particular park's accessible amenities click here: accessible amenities or simply call the park in advance of your visit.