2019 DoD Warrior Games starts next week in Tampa

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Hundreds of athletes and their families have arrived in the Tampa Bay area for the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Most of this week will be spent practicing for the paralympics events, with the opening ceremony to be held this Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

Although most events will be held off the base, some practices are underway at MacDill Air Force Base.

Each athlete has a story of why they compete and how they're overcoming challenges. Austin Harwich had a condition that caused partial paralysis.

"It's not the end. We can overcome those obstacles and become better from them," says the 24-year-old, now retired from the Army.  

The competitors come from all branches of the military, all over this country and several others.

"Tampa's part is to get out there for the games," says Col. Cary Harbaugh, of U.S. Special Operations Command. 

Harbaugh says Saturday night's opening ceremonies and concert is one of the only events with an admission charge, and it's just over $11 dollars, plus tax and fees. The event will be hosted by Jon Stewart and be followed by a concert from country artist Hunter Hayes.

"But it will be pomp and circumstance. March of the athletes and lighting of the torch. It's like the opening of the Olympics, but this is for our wounded warriors," says Harbaugh. 

The first event will be adaptive golf this Friday at Golf At The Eagles in Odessa. Other venues include the Tampa Convention Center, the Yuengling Center at USF, and the Long Center in Clearwater.

For more information, visit http://dodwarriorgames.com