Austin Trzop, originally from Newcomerstown, will be competing in the 37th National Veteran Wheelchair Games in Cincinnati from July 17-22, helped in large part by the dedication and help of his father, Jim Trzop.
Austin, 22, became a paraplegic soon after joining the Marines, injured when he dove into a pond that proved to be too shallow. He now lives in Canton and will be competing in the games for the second time. He last participated two summers ago in Dallas, Texas, where he took part in the air rifle, wight lifting, club throw and power soccer events.
The United States Marine veteran also competed in the Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado, this past winter where he was in the skiing and fishing events.
Austin's father has become the primary caretaker for his son and talked about the purpose of the games and the positive effects they have on those who participate.
"The purpose of these games is to give handicapped veterans a chance to go out and socialize," Jim said. "They are able to bond and deal with their situation in a positive way and it gives them the ability to over come their obstacles."
Austin explained his method of training for the games and what his favorite event is.
"I exercise twice a week," offered Austin. "It helps prepare me for the club throw and wight lifting events. I enjoy all of the events that I am in, but my favorite is the air rifle, which I have also been practicing for at home.
"I just really enjoy doing it," Austin said of the games. "I love going out, competing and having fun."
Austin and the Trzop family said they have received a lot of emotional support from the Newcomerstown community including Christ United Methodist Church and the Mary Magdalene Group who have sent prayer cards to Austin and his family.
"I would like to thank my mother and father for all of their support," Austin added. "I would also like to thank everyone in my community and the Mary Magdalene Group from my church for all of the letters. They have all been very supportive."
Austin's mother, Janet, also had lots of positive things to say about Austin and the care he is receiving from the VA.
"Hhe is an amazing young man I am very proud to call my son. His attitude and kind and caring spirit continues to inspire me and carry us all forward," Janet said.
The Trzop family also received extended support from the Trzop family and the family of Janet McDonnell, his mother, as well as individuals from other communities after the accident.
"His parents are very proud of him," said Jim. "and appreciate the hard work he is putting in with his disabilities. We are thankful for all the support from our community and the support from the Marines, the Veterans Administration system as well as the local American Legion."
The Trzop family relocated to Canton from Newcomerstown, allowing Austin to be closer to medical support and his college education at Kent State University (Stark Campus) where he is majoring in entrepreneurship and business. Austin graduated from Newcomerstown High School.
"I'm not handicapped," Austin concluded. "I'm just living life on hard mode."