The Red Deer Legion was host to a special visit on Wednesday afternoon.
Part of a cross-Canada tour which is visiting 15 Legion branches along the way, the official flag of the Invictus Games was handed off from Calgary member Jeanne Ross to Vince Martin of the Red Deer branch.
The Invictus Games, started by Prince Harry, is set to celebrate its third edition from September 23 to 30 in Toronto. The Games give wounded service men and women from 17 countries, most of which are NATO allies and fought alongside each other in Afghanistan, the chance to compete in 12 para-sport events.
A long-time member of the Red Deer Legion who served out of Penhold, Martin said receiving the flag was an honour, especially given what the competing athletes have been through.
"They’re obviously in a lot worse physical condition having lost limbs -- it inspires me to see them pushing forward and it inspires me to push forward in my own life -- morally and spiritually,” he said, adding it’s important that Canadians get behind the Games to honour those wounded, still serving, and the 159 who died in Afghanistan.
“I think it’s going to bond us closer with our allies too. It’s a morale booster, not only for the athletes and Canadian citizens, but also for people who are still serving -- that there’s something they can look forward to should they have to go and pay the sacrifices of losing limbs or eyes.”
Canada is sending 90 athletes to the event, up from 28 when the Games were held in Orlando last year.
Steve Wallace, Invictus Games Chief Marketing Officer, says organizers hear every day stories of how the Games have transformed and even saved lives.
“[They] now get a chance to put the red and white back on, compete with their comrades and really find sport being a way of therapy,” he said. “A year ago, they might have been shut-out from the world. Now they’ve reconnected with their family or they’ve gotten back into shape and they’re proud to represent their country once again.”
To find out more about the Invictus Games or the flag tour, visit www.invictusgames2017.com.
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