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Veterans, service members inspire one another at the Valor Games

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CHAPEL HILL -- The Valor Games got underway Tuesday.

Over three days, more than 100 ill, wounded and injured veterans and active duty service members are competing in a variety of paralympic-style sporting events. The first day of competition got underway at the Dean Smith Center at UNC Chapel Hill.

"It goes right back to the roots of being a soldier, being an infantryman," said Sfc. Howie Sanborn, as he took part in the air rifle competition.

Even after 13 years in the military, shooting an air rifle takes the Army ranger back to his training days.

"Aiming the rifle at the target, and squeezing the triggers."

However, a lot has changed since then. After two tours in Iraq, the Fort Bragg soldier was back on U.S. soil training for a triathlon last September when a car hit his bike and paralyzed him from the waist down.

"I wasn't going to let being injured defeat me," he said. "I knew right away that I was going to get right back into what I loved to do, military and athletics."

At the Valor Games, Sanborn's competing against others who share that same desire to be active.

"It's really cool for me being, you know, such a new injury to be able to interact with other veterans, just kind of hear their stories and get to talk to them and just see, you know, how they get through their day definitely helps," he said.

Stories from Marines like Cpl. Mitch Moorehead, who has been paralyzed from the waist down for nearly 10 years.

"Just because you're paralyzed doesn't mean you quit playing sports. You just find a different way to play it," said Moorehead.

The Mebane native was shot multiple times after returning home and retiring from the military.

"Watching everyone overcome their disabilities to compete is inspiring," he said.

Drawing inspiration from others, Sanborn continues to fight.

"This is my first time standing up to play a sport," Sanborn said as he tried out playing adaptive golf.

Since North Carolina has such strong ties to the military, having the games here, where the community can cheer them on, is a perfect fit.

The Valor Games will continue Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University and Thursday at the State Fairgrounds. The games are free and open to the public.

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