A Sailor stationed aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville will be one of about 265 service members and veterans to participate in the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
CS2 Mario Ingram will compete in wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, power lifting and track and field during the games, which be held at the Air Force Academy June 2-9.
The games are open to wounded, ill and injured service members from the U.S. military branches, as well as the United Kingdom and Australian Armed Forces.
Ingram, in the Navy for eight years, was diagnosed with Stage 2 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2016. After surgery and a course of chemotherapy, the cancer is now in remission.
Because of the illness, Ingram was eligible to participate in the Warrior Games. Although, when he was first approached about it, he wanted no part of it.
“I didn’t want to be bothered with anything,” Ingram said.
Despite the reluctance, Ingram decided to compete in the games in 2017.
“I gave it a chance and I ended up liking it,” he said.
Ingram played on the seated volleyball team, which won a team gold medal. He also competed on the archery team, which won a bronze medal.
He hopes to repeat the success at this year’s games, but it is the camaraderie with the athletes that has made the biggest impact on Ingram.
“I made friends for life,” he said of his fellow athletes. “I love those guys. I can’t wait to see them again.”
He will see them in April when the team meets for training in California. “I can’t wait,” he said.
Ingram has been competitive for most of his life. He was a three-sport athlete in high school, where he played baseball, football and basketball. “I play pretty much anything with a ball,” he said.
Even as a long-time athlete, Ingram learned a lot about himself with what he has gone through the last two years.
“I learned I can push myself to the limit, and then some,” he said. “Even in the worst of situations, I try to be positive because it doesn’t matter how bad you have it, somebody has it worse.”
Ingram trains for an hour-and-a-half every day to keep up with other Warrior Games athletes.
“I have to train every day because those guys are serious,” he said. He does cardio in the morning and weight-lifting in the evening.
The other athletes he met durng the Warrior Games impressed Ingram with what they are able to accomplish.
“They motivate me a lot,” he said. “Some of those people do stuff I couldn’t even fathom. They showed me that anything is possible.”