Chivas USA visits patients and plays soccer during Spinal Injury Games

Dan Kennedy spends time with spinal injury victims and plays soccer using a power wheel chair

Chivas USA’s Dan
Kennedy visited on Friday dozens of patients that are recovering from serious
spinal injuries and even played soccer with them during the 2010 Spinal Injury
Games, an annual event organized by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation
Center, a non-profit hospital in Downey, Calif.

The Spinal Injury Games Center
and are designed for spinal injury patients to experience a variety of
wheelchair sports such as soccer, football, basketball, tennis, golf, among
other sports.

“It’s a yearly event that we have at Rancho Los
Amigos and we open it to everybody. It gives past patients, as well as new
patients, the opportunity to gain confidence, to be able to open up. It allows
them to do something new, because unfortunately many of these people have not
been able to go out and do something new,” said Adam Wilson, one of the
main organizers of the event.

Kennedy and the ChivaFighter
participated during the Power Soccer section, which consists of teams of
quadriplegic or tetraplegic patients that play the game using a power chair.
The Chivas USA goalkeeper, using a wheelchair, played for about 20 minutes with
Power Soccer players.

“Power soccer is a paralympic sport and basically
there’s a certain speed that they have to stay at and the chairs are
adapted to that speed. But what they do is that they use the power chair with a
bumper and they utilize that as their legs and then they maneuver their power
chair and drive the ball to the goal,” explained Wilson.

“Trying to keep the ball on the field was a challenge
and trying to keep the wheel chair not to bump into each other was also
hard,” said Kennedy, who has been very active in the community during his
own rehabilitation. 

“They are really an inspiration to us and it’s
cool to come here and look at them having such a good time,” added
Kennedy.

“It’s a stepping stone for something better.
Even if it’s not playing sports, may be they get on a plane, may be they
want to travel on a boat, may be they’ll get on a train. This is a
stepping stone for something better than sports but if they do get into
adaptive sports we definitely funnel them to get them in the right directions
so they compete at different levels,” said Wilson.

The Spinal Injury Games are funded by The Rancho Los Amigos
Foundation, a charitable organization that raises funds for this non-profit and
world-renowned rehabilitation facility.