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Wheelchair Warrior

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The soldiers began with sports such as ping-pong, catch and pool, then it went to bowling, volleyball, and swimming, then to the more energy requiring sports such as water polo, touch-football, softball, and basketball. Although several other sports have now been added, it was basketball that overshadowed the others in a few years time in overall popularity.In 1946, other historical documents reveal that the California Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America played the very first match of organized wheelchair basketball, two weeks prior to the New England Chapter. According to these facts, it thereafter spread across the nation to the VA hospitals in Chicago, Memphis, Boston, Richmond and New York. Not before long, the sport had spread across the border to the UK and to Canada as well. (Schweiker: 1954)By the time 1948 rolled around, there were six teams in total in the United States. All were members of the PVA and all functioned from Veteran hospitals. This was the same year that the Birmingham, California team obtained a sponsored tour to travel by plane, and play other paraplegic teams across the nation. The immediate result of the first sponsored tour of the Birmingham Flying Wheels was the development of the first wheelchair basketball team outside of VA hospitals in Kansas City. The first ‘civilian’ hometown team was known as the Kansas City Wheelchair Bulldozers (later known as the City Rolling Pioneers). (Schweiker: 1954)In 1955, the Touring U.S. Pan Am Jets team was the first to bring wheelchair basketball to England, when they participated in the first international competition at Stoke Mandeville. (GBWA.org: 2011) Now, there are several teams throughout the United States, UK, and rest of the world.