Although Ernest Williams claims, “I don’t practice anything” and attends because, “I love the camaraderie and meeting new friends,” he’s proven to be an annual multi-medal winner at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
“At my first games, they told me I was a natural,” Williams says of competing in the 2011 trapshooting event in Pittsburgh. “I said, ‘How do you know? I hunt turkeys, but I’ve never shot birds (the sport’s clay pigeons) before.”
A hunting accident is what forced Williams into a wheelchair in 2010 when he dropped from a tree stand, shattering his ankle (“The bone went right through my boot.”) and subsequently suffering MRSA. He had originally suffered a debilitating knee injury while serving in 1976.
“One leg doesn’t stop me,” says Williams, who grew up in New York, and raised money and helped organize the Wheelchair Games team while at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx.
The Orlando Games with be the fifth for Williams, missing only 2014-16 while moving to Florida from New York. He will participate in ping pong for the first time, while continuing to compete in bowling, nine-ball, and trapshooting.