Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

September 2012

UCO Honors Sen. Inhofe for Support of Military Paralympic Sports With First Guardian Angel Award


Sen. Jim Inhofe and UCO President Don Betz.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (left) accepts the inaugural Guardian Angel Award from UCO President Don Betz (right). The award recognizes Inhofe’s support for the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military and Veterans Program. As an official U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site, the university hosts several training camps and events through its military sports programs.

The University of Central Oklahoma started a new tradition in August, giving its first Guardian Angel Award to U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in recognition of his support for United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Paralympic Military and Veterans Program.

As an official Olympic and Paralympic training site, the university often hosts training opportunities and events for military athletes made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the USOC. Examples include training camps in various sports and the university’s Adventure Therapy program, which brings adaptive sport to Oklahoma’s ill and injured military at Fort Sill in Lawton.

Through his work on the Armed Services Committee, Inhofe has worked to ensure funding that enables the sustainment of military sport programs through these departments.
Presenting the award, UCO President Don Betz, Ph.D., remarked that the name of the award was a military metaphor, acknowledging those who are placed as guardians to protect from above military units in combat.

“Senator Inhofe, you are that guardian angel to those service men and women, and veterans, who have been challenged by injury or illness to provide them with the encouragement and resources to help them heal,” Betz said.

“Your strong support in Congress and your personal encouragement to them in your time on our campus makes this possible.”

Inhofe was also presented with medals from the USOC’s Warrior Games from retired Col. Roger Neppl, USOC director of military programs. The Warrior Games annually brings more than 200 wounded, ill, and injured servicemen and women and veterans together to compete in seven sports.

He also received an official Team USA jacket with his name on it, presented by two of Central’s resident Paralympic athletes James Stuck and Dan Regan, who are both retired military. The pair also gave Inhofe a framed collage of photos from the UCO Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities, which Inhofe has attended.

Accepting the recognition, Inhofe said he could not take all of the credit. “Each one of you who has served and protected our country are more deserving of this. We’re just here to help.”

Central will give the Guardian Angel Award annually to a person who shows extraordinary support for active duty and veteran military at the university.

Central offers many services for active duty and veteran students through its recently opened VetHERO office. For more information, visit www.uco.edu/central/vethero or call 405-974-3836.
To learn more about Central’s military sports programs, visit www.UCOmilitarysports.com.

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