I am honored to be here to say thanks, on behalf of VA and all the Veterans we serve at events like this one, to all of you generous people who make this exceptional week possible. Let me start by acknowledging:
* The team at VA's Desert Pacific Healthcare Network: Stan Johnson, Robert Smith , Cindy Abair, Todd Gould, and all their wonderful people, for giving of themselves, yet again--four years now--so that our Veteran athletes have an opportunity to see their potential and have inspiring memories about this great week. Hope and laughter are powerful remedies.
* I'd like to offer particular thanks to our local coordinator, Tristan Heaton, for his tireless efforts to ensure this clinic's success. He and Marci Appelhanz have worked many long hours to bring all of us together today. And here we are. Well done, thanks to you both.
* And, of course, a big "thank you" to our wonderful support staff and volunteers. Thank you all for your dedication and your commitment to organizing our best clinic yet.
* Fellow Veterans, other VA colleagues, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the sponsors' reception! As I just noted, this is our fourth and best, so far, Summer Sports Clinic--a place where younger Veterans are challenged physically and mentally, and where they can also experience success again.
Tomorrow, we will witness the triumph of human spirit over adversity, ability over disability, will over uncertainty, as injured heroes tackle kayaking, track and field, surfing, rowing, sailing, and cycling. Few of us have ever exerted ourselves to the limits of our endurance--that proverbial wall in human performance, when neither mind nor body is able to go on. It takes great courage for an injured Veteran to take on that kind of challenge and tackle uncertainty. But these are men and women who have never known "quit." It should not surprise anyone that they will compete, confront themselves, fight through those limits, and win, again, here this week.
Thank you all for underwriting their efforts. You have provided them the opportunity to challenge themselves, and to triumph over adversity again--a precious gift that we able-bodied sometimes take for granted.
I know there are many important causes out there, all worthy of your financial support. But this one's special. Whether your contribution has been financial, in-kind, or you have volunteered, I can assure you that this sports clinic changes lives and yields life-long dividends for those who participate. You have made a good investment.
For those of you who have sponsored this event in the past, welcome back. For our first-time sponsors, you will witness a unique event. This week you will see our Nation's injured Veterans striving harder, reaching higher, renewing their spirits, bringing out the best within themselves and in others around them. In the process, we will all see just what people can achieve with courage and determination.
To HHV--Help Hospitalized Veterans--one of our founding sponsors, thank you for your support and for over 40 years of serving Veterans who receive their care at VA Medical Centers. Mike Lynch and all the others from HHV--thank you for coming on behalf of your members.
The VA Canteen Service--our other founding sponsor, represented tonight by Jeffrey Gresham and the VCS team. Thank you for believing in this clinic and for your unwavering support of our Veterans over the years.
To all our other sponsors--corporate, VSO, non-profit, volunteers--especially our hosts, Cisco, San Diego Marriott, Fisher House Foundation--we could not have put this week on without you. Thank you for your care and commitment to injured Veterans. Having once been a wounded soldier myself, I know the value of people believing in you and your ability to not quit fighting. Hope is a powerful remedy. Your support will give our Veteran-participants the boost they need to overcome the obstacles they encounter every day.
Thank you for giving these very special men and women this opportunity to continue to rehabilitate in mind, body, and spirit--to soar in recovery.
God bless our men and women in uniform. God bless our Veterans, and may God continue to bless this wonderful country of ours.