This Naval Officer Doesn't Let Multiple Sclerosis Stop Him
The recent 2017 international Invictus Games was a star-studded event in Toronto, Canada. Invictus, fashioned after the American Warrior Games, is also for wounded members of the military, even veterans. Events include wheelchair basketball, an indoor rowing event, golf and volleyball, to name just a few of the competitions. Invictus is somewhat reminiscent of the Paralympics for those with varied disabilities, but Invictus is exclusively for “wounded, injured or sick” men and women of the armed forces, active or veteran. In Latin, Invictus appropriately means Unconquered. The Games is an annual, multi-national event. Last year, the Invictus was held in Orlando, Florida. The 2018 event is slated to be held in Australia. (Invictus Games Foundation)
According to the Foundation, the Invictus Games were started in 2014 by British Prince Harry of Wales, commonly called Prince Harry. The project came about after Prince Harry attended the Colorado Springs 2013 American Warrior Games, delivered the opening speech, and recognized how such an event could help with the physical and emotional needs of wounded servicemen and women around the world. Harry was in the British Army at the time. He reportedly "stole the idea and brought it back to the UK.” Prince Harry remains a patron of the Games and has attended each yearly event. The Invictus Games Foundation has been formed to “oversee” these events.
In Harry’s 2017 opening speech on YouTube, he eloquently dedicated the 2017 event to “those who serve their countries, are hurt in service to their country, and to those who ‘refuse to be defined by their injuries.’” He referred to Invictus as a way to “support those on their journey to recovery of physical and mental wounds” and to “draw the attention of the world” (to the need for ongoing support for these individuals.)
Following his speech, Harry spoke with Melania Trump in a reserved area of a near-by hotel. The First Lady was in Toronto as an Invictus representative for the U.S. Later, Prince Harry joined Barack Obama in front row seats. Next to the ex-President sat ex-Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. (the New Zealand Herald/NZH)
How Lieutenant Dan Crawford stood out
As well-known as these people are, the one who stood out even more was a Royal New Zealand Naval officer. In 2014, Lieutenant Dan Crawford was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Dan is a native of the North Shore section of New Zealand. Dan enrolled in the Invictus Games to compete in athletics, indoor rowing, and swimming events. Dan relates that he’s symptom-free and saw the physical challenge of Invictus events as an opportunity to demonstrate his continued strength. He also wanted to send out the message that a person can do anything he/she chooses to. “I've made diet and lifestyle changes that have left me feeling physically a healthier, stronger person and the only impact to my mental state is a greater resilience and determination to succeed,” Crawford says. (the NJH)
More about Dan Crawford
Dan, age 26, has a degree in science and mathematics from the University of Auckland, near his home town.) He is now a Royal New Zealander Navy officer, ranked as a Lieutenant. According to the NZH, Dan was diagnosed with MS when returning home after being stationed in Antarctica for 3-months. His original symptoms were “numbing” of the left side of his body, which lasted for about 6 weeks. Although Dan’s been primarily symptom free since, he has experienced two short-term relapses.
Dan reports he has been impressed with Prince Harry’s involvement with the Invictus Games and considers it an honor to participate. According to the Northland, Dan’s focus as an Invictus participant is in “Breaking down barriers…showing you can achieve your goals no matter what your limitations are…(and) that Invictus Games (are) a means of supporting the rehabilitation of those who are used to a performing at a high level but for injury or illness have not been able to maintain this.”
It seems very apparent that Dan is not allowing MS to be a barrier to what he wants to do in life.
Outcome of the 2017 Invictus Games
Dan Crawford won the first-ever Invictus medal for New Zealand, taking a bronze for the Men’s IT7 1500m track competition. He also took bronze for the Men’s IT7 400m race and for the Men’s IR6 Indoor Row (1min), as well. Additionally, Dan won a silver medal for the Men’s IR6 4min Indoor Row- silver (4 min). It was a good run for the New Zealanders as they won a total of 11 medals- the most they’d ever earned at the Invictus. (Contact)
According to the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF), “550 ill and injured servicemen and women from 17 allied nations — including 24 from the New Zealand- competed in 12 adaptive sporting events.”
The NJDF states “The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate awareness of the physical and psychological injuries sustained by wounded warriors”.
Put it on your calendar for September 2018 to check for airing of the Invictus from Sydney, Australia. It sounds like a very worthwhile way to spend a week’s TV time.