More than 600 athletes and thousands of visitors will gather in Tampa on July 13, 2013, for the Disabled Sports, Recreation and Fitness Exposition (Expo) — the official kickoff to the 33rd National Veterans Wheelchair Games. The event will take place at the Tampa Convention Center, East Hall from 9 AM to 4 PM.
This year’s Expo will feature more than 75 exhibitors, including booths held by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, featuring Paralyzed Veterans’ programs like Wheels Helping Warriors and Operation PAVE. Some longtime private sector supporters of the games, including Invacare Corporation, Iron Bow Technologies and UPS, also will have booths at the games, said Elizabeth Aulwes, program manager for corporate and cause marketing at Paralyzed Veterans.
This year’s Expo also will include some new corporate faces, including Mountain Trike, a United Kingdom-based all-terrain wheelchair company, and Bioderm Inc./Men’s Liberty, a provider of external men’s catheters, Aulwes said.
“We always try to bring in new exhibitors who have exciting services to offer,” Aulwes said. “The Expo presents the opportunity to check out new products and services that serve those in the disability community.”
Kelly Barry, senior marketing manager for Hollister Continence Care, a returning exhibitor at the Expo, expressed the company’s continued support for Paralyzed Veterans and the Games.
“Hollister Continence Care shares Paralyzed Veterans of America’s ongoing commitment to care and to help veterans live the full, rewarding lives they deserve,” Barry said.
Aulwes said the Games Expo is unique in that it provides an opportunity for exhibitors to reach out to disabled veterans in a way no other Expo provides, allowing companies to network with the VA and work directly with the veteran community.
But the value of the Expo extends beyond just the marketing aspects; it also serves as a central gathering place for veterans, exhibitors and others to reconnect with old friends, Aulwes added. Many of the returning exhibitors who have participated in the games over the past 30 years have built friendships with the athletes, so it’s a great time for them to reconnect as well, Aulwes added.
“The Expo is always the central gathering point for the wheelchair games on that day,” she said. “Everyone spends the majority of the day there to reconnect with old friends; it’s almost like a big reunion.”