In two weeks, Neosho native Glenn Isaac Fretz will head to Tampa, Fla., to compete in the National Veterans' Wheelchair Games.

In two weeks, Neosho native Glenn Isaac Fretz will head to Tampa, Fla., to compete in the National Veterans' Wheelchair Games.

A United States Army veteran, Fretz fought in the Gulf War.

An injury sustained while serving overseas, paired with a subsequent injury from an accident after returning home, has left Fretz paralyzed.

However, the 1989 Neosho High School graduate hasn't let the challenges he's endured stand in his way.
He has competed in several marathons and wheelchair games, most recently taking first place in the wheelchair division of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April.

Fretz also rode his handcycle on a 4,200-mile cross-country journey last summer as part of the Long Road Home Project.

He departed for that ride last July and finished in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 15.

Fretz said he competes to honor the memory of lost veterans.

"I do it to honor people like LaVena Johnson, who was a military sexual trauma victim, she's one of the fallen that I represent," Fretz said. "There's a lot of veterans who are near and dear to my heart that I keep alive through my actions."

Among those veterans are his grandfathers, Richard Hill, who served in the United States Navy, and Glen P. Morris, Sr., who also served in the United States Army.

"When I compete I keep them alive in my heart," Fretz said.

In addition to the physical challenges, Fretz recently encountered another obstacle, when his handcycle that he had traveled cross-country on was stolen just hours before he was set to compete in a marathon in Little Rock, Ark.

"I'm trying to get a replacement handcycle now," Fretz said. "I was so bummed because I was ready for that marathon, I was so looking forward to doing that."

Despite the bump in the road, Fretz has continued to compete, and has worked for months to train for his upcoming competition.

While at the National Veterans' Wheelchair Games, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, Fretz plans to participate in basketball, bowling, softball and possibly handcycling.
He says he's best at basketball.

The National Veterans' Wheelchair Games is the largest wheelchair sports event in the world, attracting more than 500 military service veterans each year, according to the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

The program offers 18 competitive events, including archery, air guns, power soccer and table tennis.

"I had a therapist from San Diego, Calif., get me involved in wheelchair sports and it's changed my life," Fretz said.

He said he got his application in for the games in February, when he was already training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and the Little Rock Marathon.

"I just changed my training over from endurance for marathon to strength and endurance for the wheelchair games," Fretz said.

His training includes frequent trips to the Neosho Freeman Family YMCA, where he works on basketball and weightlifting, bi-weekly trips to Edgewood Bowl in Neosho, and workouts at Bicentennial Conservation Area, where he works on endurance training.

Fretz has also been getting some help locally to pay the way for his trip to Florida and to help fund his hotel and meal expenses while there.

The Neosho American Legion Auxiliary Unit 163 is accepting donations to help fund the trip for Fretz. Those wanting to help out can mail checks to the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 163 at P.O. Box 63, Neosho, 64850. Checks should be made out to the auxiliary, with "Glenn Isaac Fretz fundraiser" in the memo line.
There will also be a chance to donate to Fretz's trip on Saturday at Celebrate Neosho.

The American Legion Auxiliary will have a booth set up at the Neosho airport from 5 to 8 p.m. selling raffle tickets for $1 apiece or $5 for six tickets.

Those entering the raffle have a chance to win a La-Z-Boy rocker recliner, an etched patriotic light from Silhouette Imaging, a $25 gift certificate for Christy's Fireworks, six free games at Edgewood Bowl, or two passes for dinner and a show at Flowerbox Theater.