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Valor Games Midwest


The Chicago Park District will host the 9th Annual Valor Games Midwest in Chicago, IL on August 17-19, 2021.  The Valor Games Midwest is an three-day Paralympic sport competition for disabled veterans and wounded, ill or injured service members. This is an introductory competition, no previous experience required to participate. Athletes can compete in discus, shot put, cycling, archery, powerlifting, indoor rowing, biathlon, laser rifle or table tennis.  We welcome your application and appreciate your interest in participating. 

Application Process 

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Important things to note: 

  • Applicants will be notified of their acceptance status on or before July 23, 2021.  
  • Hotel accommodations are not guaranteed for all athletes, priority will go to athletes traveling from outside the city of Chicago. 


If you have any questions about 2021 Valor Games Midwest, please contact either of the following Project and Event Coordinators :
Aimee Gottlieb |
Andrew Grose |  


Additional Information 

Caregiver Information

A caregiver is present to ONLY assist the athlete they are accompanying. If participants are unable to perform their own personal care independently while participating in the Valor Games Midwest (VGM), they may be required to have a family member or attendant (caregiver) accompany them. Chicago Park District staff does will not perform personal care for patrons served during VGM. All caregivers must be identified by the athlete and must complete the caregiver form below.

A caregiver is expected to: 

  • Wear a badge, bracelet or t-shirt identifying themselves as a caregiver throughout Valor Games Midwest.
  • Be physically able to perform the caregiver duties needed by the athlete they are providing care to. 
  • Be available to provide assistance to the athlete in which they are providing care at all times throughout Valor Games Midwest. If the caregiver fails to do so, this may result in disqualification of their athlete or his/her participation in future Valor Games Midwest.  
  • Not hold the Chicago Park District, its employees, Board of Commissioners, officers, and its sponsors, partners, or agents responsible for any injuries or losses they might sustain while participating in Valor Games Midwest, whether in person, via telephone, or over the internet, or while in travel to or from said activities, and hereby release the Chicago Park District and its employees from liability for any injury they may sustain. The caregiver further agrees to defend and indemnify the Chicago Park District for any claims asserted on behalf of myself as a result of their participation in Park Activities.
  • Grant permission to the Chicago Park District and its sponsors, partners, or agents for the use of any and all photos in which the caregiver may appear. The usage is inclusive of, but not limited to, the publication or inclusion in brochures, posters, websites, catalogs, handbooks, banners, and broadcast or print advertisements. The caregiver agrees to waive any claim to compensation for use of said photos. 
Service Animal Information

At Valor Games Midwest, our number one priority is participant safety. For individuals who will attend Valor Games Midwest with a service animal, please know that we will do our best to ensure that all rights afforded to you under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are preserved. 

The following excerpt was taken directly from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Disability Rights Section in referring to the ADA. 

“Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task an animal has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.”

If an animal’s sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support, it does not qualify as a service animal under the ADA. 
The Americans with Disabilities Act also provides guidance on how to appropriately handle situations in which a service animal acts aggressively toward another service animal or human, begs for food at the table, urinates indoors, or exhibits other problematic behaviors. 

The ADA states:

“A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises     unless: 
(1) the animal/dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it     or
(2) the animal/dog is not housebroken. 
When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the     person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s     presence.” 

The handler of a service animal will be asked to correct the behavior if they have not already done so. If the behavior of the service animal persists the handler will be asked to remove the service animal from the event. The handler will still be allowed to participate in the event.

As the handler of as service animal I must agree: 

  • That my animal meets the ADA’s definition of a service animal.
  • That my animal is not an emotional support animal or pet.
  • To provide care, feeding and supervision of my service animal.
  • To be in full control of my service animal at all times.
  • To clean up and properly dispose of my animal’s waste by securing the waste in a plastic bag and placing it in an outside garbage container.
  • To ensure that my animal is urinating in an appropriate outdoor space. 
  • To be financially responsible for any bodily injury and/or property damage caused by my service animal to any individuals, including the handler.
Athlete Code of Conduct

In consideration of my participation in the Valor Games Midwest (VGM), I understand that I will be representing myself, other Veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Chicago Park District, Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Dare2Tri, Adaptive Adventures, North Side Archery Club, Central Cross Country Skiing, US Rowing, and USA Para Powerlifting. I understand it is a privilege to compete in VGM.   
I understand that if I am found in violation of the Code of Conduct, I may be immediately disqualified from the event and sent home at my own expense. Depending on the type of violation, I may be prohibited from competing in future VGM events.

In order to compete, I must agree to abide by the VGM Code of Conduct as detailed below:

  1. I will behave in a professional, courteous, and respectful manner toward fellow participants, staff, volunteers, and event spectators. 
  2. I understand that no form of abuse or harassment, whether it is verbal, physical, emotional or sexual, will be tolerated.
  3. As this is a sporting competition and the VGM is committed to supporting each athlete to compete at his or her highest level, I will refrain from the consumption of alcohol or illegal substances during the VGM.
  4. I will respect all property at the event, including that of my fellow Veterans. I understand that I am responsible for any damage that I cause. This includes smoking in non-smoking hotel rooms.
  5. I am responsible for all charges and use of incidentals (movies, room services, items from a mini bar) in my hotel room.  
  6. I understand that I will not be reimbursed by VGM for any transportation, food, equipment or any other services purchased on my own. 
  7. I will abide by the decisions of the event officials and local organizing committee.
  8. I understand that if I am late to scheduled events, I may forfeit my participation. Further, if I am late to ground transportation, it is my responsibility to coordinate alternate transportation to get to the event location, at my own expense.
  9. I will only travel with a caregiver if it is medically necessary. I understand that due to the costs associated with the event, bringing a caregiver who is not needed for activities of daily living (or ADLs), travel or competition means that another Veteran will not be able to attend.
  10. If I am traveling with a service animal, I understand that I am responsible for handling my service animal under the ADA guidelines. I understand that animals whose sole purpose is to provide emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA and therefore are not permitted at VGM. 
  11. If I am not able to attend the VGM, I will contact the event staff via email or phone as soon as possible. I understand that if I am approved and do not cancel my participation or do not show up, that I am taking away the opportunity for another Veteran to attend, and in the future may not be eligible to participate in VMG.
COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Failure to comply with any of the below guidelines will result in immediate removal from the 2021 Valor Games Midwest. The below guidelines are subject to change.


  • The 2021 Valor Games Midwest will only offer sporting events/competitions that allow for 6 feet of social distancing between athletes, staff and volunteers.
  • There will be no spectators allowed at the 2021 Valor Games Midwest, only registered athletes and caregivers will be permitted.
  • Prior to arriving to each competition venue, all athletes will be asked to complete a self-screening of COVID-19 symptoms by asking the following questions daily: 
    • Have you had a body temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or have you used a fever reducer in the previous 24 hours to treat a body temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit?
    • Do you have a new cough that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
    • Do you have a new shortness of breath that you cannot attribute to another health condition?
    • Have you recently developed a complete loss of smell or taste?
  • Regardless of vaccination status all athletes are required to wear a face covering, fully covering the mouth and nose, when inside with the exception of when actively eating or drinking. 
  • Regardless of vaccination status face coverings are optional when athletes are actively competing or warming-up and maintaining 6 feet of social distancing when outside. 
  • All athletes must be able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing throughout the games.
  • All athletes should follow the City of Chicago Emergency Travel Order, click here for the most up to date guidelines.
  • Athletes should not attend Valor Games Midwest if in the last 10 days you have:
    • Answered yes to any of the self-screening questions
    • Exhibited any symptoms of illness including by not limited to fever, runny nose, cough, body aches and nausea. 
      • Participants displaying symptoms attributed to a noncontagious condition such as allergies will need to provide a doctor’s note stating such.
    • Have tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results
    • Have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, are awaiting test results or exhibited COVID-19 symptoms
    • Traveled to any foreign country
    • Been on a cruise
  • Athletes are strongly encouraged to isolate and avoid potential high risk/exposure situations in the 10 days leading up to their arrival to Valor Games Midwest. 
  • If an athlete displays symptoms of COVID-19 during Valor Games Midwest they will be asked to leave immediately. 
  • If an athlete does exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive, the Chicago Park District will notify all athletes and caregivers who may have been exposed.
  • Daily attendance of athletes, caregivers, volunteers, staff and members of partnering agencies will ensure proper contract tracing.
  • All caregivers must follow all the COVID-19 safety guidelines listed in this document. 
  • Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer will be available in all high traffic areas.
  • Frequently touched areas will be disinfected regularly, shared equipment will be disinfected before and after each use.

Facilities and Competitions

  • Regardless of vaccination status all athletes are required to wear a face covering, fully covering the mouth and nose, when inside with the exception of when actively eating or drinking.
  • Regardless of vaccination status face coverings are optional when athletes are actively competing or warming-up and maintaining 6 feet of social distancing when outside. 
    • Face coverings are required when social distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Athletes must social distance at least 6 feet from others who are not within the same household when at a competition venue.
    • The only exception being if an athlete requires assistance adjusting equipment, if an athlete does need assistance transferring the athlete should bring a caregiver.
      • The assistant will wear a face covering and will clean their hands with hand sanitizer just prior to and after assisting. 
  • Athletes will be briefed on the flow of each competition prior to the start to ensure there is a clear understanding of how social distancing will be maintained.
  • During the powerlifting competition: 
    • Athletes will be required to wear a face covering throughout the entirety of the competition including while lifting
    • Spotters will wear a face covering and eye protection
  • All equipment will be cleaned/sanitized before and after each use.


  • All athletes will wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer prior to eating
  • All eating will take place outdoors when at Valor Games Midwest event.
    • In the event of rain, meals will take place under a tent with open sides.
    • Participants must wear a face covering unless actively eating/drinking.
    • While eating athletes will maintain 6 feet of social distancing from other. 
    • All meals will be individually packed/bagged. Buffet-style is not permitted.
    • Whenever possible, mealtimes will be staggered to allow for social distancing. 
  • Athletes will maintain personal water bottles.


  • Hotel accommodations will only be provided for athletes, caregivers, partnering organizations traveling from outside of Chicago and 1-2 Chicago Park District staff.
  • No roommates, single room occupancy only. Athletes that require a caregiver will share the same room.
  • Breakfast will be provided by the hotel in paper bags, no communal/buffet style eating will be offered.
    • Eating in the hotel should only take place in the athlete’s room
  • Wear a face covering, properly covering the nose and mouth, in all indoor public areas throughout the hotel. 
  • We will have a designated Chicago Park District staff member overseeing the hotel stay ensuring that athletes are following these and any additional guidelines required by the Hilton. 
  • The Hilton has put in place the following measures to ensure safety during the athlete’s hotel stay: 
    • Guest-accessible disinfecting wipes at entrances and high traffic areas (Hilton uses Lysol trusted cleaning supplies)
    • Contactless check-in and check-out with digital key usage for room door entry
    • Increased focused on disinfection of high touch areas in the guest’s rooms
    • Increased cleaning and disinfection frequency of public areas


  • All drivers and passengers are required to wear a face covering. The face covering must be in place before boarding the bus and cannot be removed until after completely off the bus.
  • No drinking or eating while on the bus. 
  • Buses will be loaded back to front and unloaded front to back based on when the passengers arrived for boarding to minimize contact.
  • Passengers will not be allowed to change seats once on the bus and seated
  • The bus will be limited to 75% capacity. 
  • If possible, bus will have windows open for increased air flow. 
  • Vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected daily.
  • We will have a designated Chicago Park District staff member overseeing transportation ensuring that bus drivers and passengers are following these guidelines.



What is the Valor Games?
A three-day Paralympic Sport competition for disabled veterans and wounded, ill or injured service members. This is a grassroots and introductory competition. No previous experience required.

What are the dates and general schedule for Valor Games Midwest (VGM) 2021?
The 2021 Valor Games Midwest will take place August 17-19, 2021. 
August 17:  Registration, Resource Fair, Field Events, Rowing (Indoor)
August 18:  Archery & Cycling
August 19:  Powerlifting, Biathlon & Table Tennis

Where will the competitions take place?
The 2021 event will take place in various Chicago Park District locations within Chicago, IL. Tuesday, August 17th events will be held at Soldier Field. Wednesday, August 18th events will be held at Lincoln Park Archery Range and the Wilson/Lakeshore Drive Parking lot. Thursday, August 19th events will be held at McKinley Park. 

Who is eligible to compete?

  • Service requirement: 
    Applications are accepted from those who have served or are currently serving in the US Armed Forces. The time-frame in which you served, the location, or cause of your injury will not preclude your application from being considered.
  • Disabilities Include: 
    • Traumatic Brain Injury
    • Amputation
    • Stroke
    • Visual Impairment or Blind
    • PTS/D
    • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
    • Burns
    • Hearing Loss
    • Spinal Cord Injury
    • Shrapnel Injury
    • Other orthopedic impairment
  • Residency: 
    Athletes must live in one of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. If you are not from one of the before mentioned states please reach out to one of the Valor Games Midwest coordinators Aimee Gottlieb ( or Andrew Grose ( All athletes that are interested in competing must submit an online application by the July 16 deadline. 

How do interested athletes apply?
All interested athletes are required to apply for Valor Games Midwest (VGM) The online application will be open May – July 16. Only fully completed applications will be reviewed by the application committee. Applying to the VGM does not guarantee acceptance. Priority for the 2021 VGM will be given to athletes who require adaptation to participate in sport due to their disability. Priority is given to athletes who have not competed in VGM in previous years. Athletes from the Midwest region. Athletes will be notified by July 23, 2021 if they have been chosen to compete in the 2021 VGM. For more information about the application process please contact Aimee Gottlieb ( or Andrew Grose (

What sports are being offered at this year’s games?
Athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the following sports: 

  • Archery
  • Biathlon/Laser Rifle
  • Field Events (shout put and discus)
  • Powerlifting
  • Indoor Rowing 
  • Table Tennis

Athletes will also have the opportunity to take part in a cycling experience along the Chicago Lakefront Path.

Where will the athletes stay?
Hotel accommodations are provided for athletes during the event (the nights of August 17th and 18th) at Hilton Downtown Chicago Hotel (720 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL). Due to limited hotel funds, priority will be given to athletes traveling from outside the city of Chicago for Valor Games Midwest. Due to COVID-19, this year rooms will be single occupancy only; unless you are accompanied by a caregiver.

Where are the closest transportation hubs?
Transportation to Valor Games Midwest and home from the games is the responsibility of the Athlete. Funding, scheduling and purchasing is not provided by Valor Games Midwest. 

Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Greyhound Bus Terminal (630 W Harrison Street)

Amtrak Train: 
Chicago Union Station (225 S Canal St)

How do I get to the competition venues each day?
Shuttle buses provided by Valor Games Midwest will transport athletes from the hotel to competition venues and back each day. On August 17, athletes are responsible for their own transportation to Soldier Field. 

Athletes who are not staying at the hotel will be responsible for securing their own transportation to and from the competition venues each day. Free parking will be provided at each of the venues. All venues are accessible via Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) bus, train and rideshare/taxi services.

Will meals be provided?
Valor Games Midwest will provide breakfast on the mornings of August 18 and 19 and lunch all 3 days of competition. Athletes are responsible for dinner and snacks.

When will I hear if I have been chosen to compete?
Athletes will be notified of his or her acceptance status by July 23, 2021. Applicants not initially accepted will automatically be placed on a waiting list.

What happens if I am placed on the waiting list?
If a chosen athlete is unable to attend the games, someone from the waitlist will be chosen to participate. Valor Games Midwest will notify you if a spot opens.

What will the athlete need to pay for?
Athlete’s hotel stay on August 18 and 19, some meals, transportation to and from competition venues and event apparel will be provided at NO COST. Athletes are responsible for the cost of their transportation (flight, taxis, train, bus or car rental) to Valor Games Midwest and home from the games. Any meals outside of the breakfast and lunch provided by Valor Games Midwest and any additional fees they may have accrued while staying at the hotel is at the expense of the athlete. Any transportation to the event location on August 17 and from the event location on August 19 is the athlete’s responsibility.

Can the athlete's family attend?
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, spectators will not be allowed to attend the 2021 games. However, approved caregivers will be allowed to attend. Please see the 2021 Caregiver Information section above for further information. 

Can I bring a service animal?
Please see the 2021 Service Animal Information section above for further information.

What Covid-19 safety precautions will be put in place to keep the athletes safe?
Please see the 2021 Valor Games Midwest COVID-19 Guidelines section above for further information.

Who can I contact should I have additional questions or concerns?
Aimee Gottlieb, Veteran Programs and Military Initiatives Programs & Event Coordinator
Andrew Grose, Veteran Programs and Military Initiatives Programs & Event Coordinator