People: Spirit Of Twila-light

U.S. Army veterans Twila Adams receiving the 2019 NVWG Spirit of the Games Award. (Photo by Kerry Randolph).
Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News September 2019

U.S. Army veterans takes home the 2019 NVWG Spirit of the Games Award

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When Twila Adams’ name was called to move to the stage at the 39th National Veterans Wheelchair Games’ (NVWG) closing ceremony, she thought she’d just won a prize.

“I thought I won a drawing again, that I won last year,” says the 60-year-old Army veteran. “I won the TV last year, so I thought she [the emcee] was making me come over here so I could get some headphones or something.”

It turns out, Adams won something better.

Just Living Her Life

A PVA Southeastern Chapter member, Adams was named the 2019 NVWG’s Spirit of the Games award winner July 16 inside the Kentucky International Convention Center ballroom in Louisville, Ky. 

The Spirit of the Games award is presented to the veteran who exemplifies the NVWG, co-sponsored by Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through his or her athletic achievements, leadership and support of other athletes. It’s voted on by fellow veterans.

Adams was overcome with emotion. On her way up to the stage, she wiped away tears with one hand and after her speech, she needed both hands to dry her face. 

“I’m just living my life,” Adams says, with tears coming down. 

Stuart Cohen, national account manager for Invacare Corporation, presented the award, saying fellow veterans acknowledged she’s a great inspiration for other people, is always helping others and watches out for other athletes selflessly.

“During the week of the Games, you will find her on the sidelines, cheering and supporting her veterans and family and friends,” Cohen says. “If you ever come in contact with this veteran, her smile and spirit is something you won’t soon forget.”

It marked the second consecutive year a PVA Southeastern Chapter member has won the award, with Army veteran Keith Thompson receiving the honor at the 2018 Games in Orlando, Fla. 

Adams served from 1980 to 1991 in transportation. She sustained a T4–T5 spinal-cord injury (SCI) in a 1994 automobile accident in Charlotte, N.C., and this marked her 11th NVWG. 

Adams never played sports growing up, not even in high school. But one day she went for a SCI exam, and a recreational therapist asked her if she wanted to go to the Games. 

“And I said, ‘And do what?’ And she said, ‘You can play billiards.’ I know how to play pool, ” Adams says. “I said, ‘From this?’[indicating her wheelchair] And she said, ‘Yes.’ Then, I asked her about the cost, and she said I was a novice and it was free. And I said, ‘Yeah, I want to go,’ and that’s when I came and I saw other people. And I was like, ‘Oh my God, my life is going to ...’ I don’t think they know what they did, because now I can be an athlete. ”


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People: Spirit Of Twila-light


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