Four veterans injured during military service tried out the sport of table tennis at the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Paralympic Military Summit held this past fall in Colorado Springs. All have enjoyed active lifestyles since their injuries, playing recreational and team sports, but had not contemplated representing the U.S. as members of a national team. They met Lead Paralympic Table Tennis Coach Sean O'Neill at the summit, and he encouraged them to go to the USA Paralympic Table Tennis Championships in Las Vegas in December, represent the U.S., and try their newfound skills against international competition.
The four, two men and two women, did not get frustrated or discouraged as they met the most challenging opponents they will likely ever confront. Patricia Sapp had a spinal-cord injury and extensive internal injuries, requiring significant reconstructive surgery on her bladder and stomach. Dana Liesegang sustained a cervical spinal-cord lesion. Pat McDonald, a T11 paraplegic, came to the competition with his 3-year-old daughter Andrea and his wife and one paddle, and left with arms-full of new table-tennis equipment.