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More options for blind veterans Special To The Star-news | Sat, Sep 03 2011 12:00 PM

(NAPS) - Taking advantage of programs designed for blinded veterans was a life-changing experience for Jeff Henson.

Henson was a recent trainee at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Birmingham when he mentioned to social worker Sonya Graham that he wanted to attend the upcoming Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colorado. Graham didn't waste a moment in trying to help Henson.

"Sonya made dozens of calls to help me get information and funding," said Henson. "I also received a lot of help and encouragement from my instructors."

It was a turning point for Henson. "After participating in my first sporting event, I was hooked," he said. "I felt in my heart that I could compete with anyone on any level."

Such confidence and motivation were quite a reversal.

"I had been active in athletic activities all of my life," he said, "but I stopped doing things after I lost my vision because I did not know there were adaptive sports programs out there."

Participation gave him the confidence to compete once again at age 50 against sighted athletes in nonadaptive events.

Since the Winter Sports Clinic, his activities included the Georgia Golden Olympics, which led him to the National Golden Olympics in San Francisco. He competed there in two events against sighted athletes. He also rode a tandem bicycle from Miami to Key West.

Upcoming plans include a tandem ride from the White House to Gettysburg and the Normandy Challenge, a 10-day trip to France for a ride through World War II D-Day battlefields.

For more information, call BVA at (800) 669-7079 or visit www.bva.org.

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