Tampa veteran, 91, to compete in Golden Age Games

- A disabled World War II veteran at the Haley VA Hospital in Tampa is raising money for a trip to the National Veterans Golden Age Games in Biloxi Mississippi, which are taking place in May.  

Richard Lilien is almost 91-years-old, but he is much younger, at heart.

"I'll be perfectly honest with you," he said. "I'm a 40-year-old man trapped inside a 91-year-old body." 

Laughing helped Lilien go on after a fall left him paralyzed four years ago, but he still carries the nickname, "The Hammer."

"I used to hit a golf ball farther than guys 30 to 40 years younger than me. They said, 'That's The Hammer,'" he chuckled.

And The Hammer still wins medals. Last year he was a winner when the Golden Age Games were held in Detroit.  He competed against hundreds of disabled veterans from all over the country.

He competes in bocce ball, bowling, shooting and shuffleboard.

Hospital charities paid for his first trip last year, but vets who want to return to the games have to raise the money themselves.

Lilien's GoFundMe page has a goal of $2,600 to pay for his trip. He says if he raises more, he'll donate it to other veterans who want to go.

Hospital officials say nearly 20 disabled veterans from Tampa are hoping to attend the games in Mississippi. The Hammer hopes to be among them.

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