Announcing the Wheelchair Football League Championship Game | Bob Woodruff Foundation

Announcing the Wheelchair Football League Championship Game

Author Image

The Wheelchair Football League returns in 2023 for their Championship Game during Super Bowl week. Kansas City and Los Angeles compete for the trophy on February 7 at Camelback Ranch outside Phoenix. The Rams Wheelchair Football Team won the inaugural League Championship during Super Bowl week in 2022.

In 2019, Move United, with funding from an NFL Salute to Service and Bob Woodruff Foundation grant, established the USA Wheelchair Football League for athletes with disabilities, including veterans. The league, modeled after NFL play, features adaptations to maintain a fast-paced and exciting game for players and spectators.

Mirroring the National Football League Rules

The USA Wheelchair Football League rules mirror those of the NFL, with modifications to ensure the safety and enjoyment of players and fans alike. For example, the field is smaller, and the ball is slightly larger. The players use specially designed wheelchairs built for speed and maneuverability, and play on a hard surface. Since 2019, over 575 individuals with disabilities have participated in the League through clinics, practice opportunities, camps, scrimmages, and tournaments for top adaptive athletes from across the US.

One of the most remarkable aspects of wheelchair football is the camaraderie and sense of community that it creates. The players come from all different backgrounds and have a wide range of injuries and disabilities. However, they all have one thing in common: a deep love of the game of football.

Through wheelchair football, veterans and active-duty military members come together, bond over their shared experiences, and enjoy the thrill of competition. They also give back to their communities by volunteering and participating in charitable events.

Which team will you root for? Kansas City or Los Angeles? Let’s make some noise for the veterans on the field! Happy Super Bowl!

Introducing the Kansas City Chiefs’ Veterans

Alex Nguyen (#40)
Alex Nguyen is a retired Sergeant in the US Marines Corps. Nine years into his service, on September 20, 2011, a roadside bomb struck hi vehicle in Afghanistan. The explosion resulted in severe injuries to his legs and eventually the amputation of his right leg. Since his injury, Alex discovered adaptive sports and has competed for Team USA at the Invictus Games in Australia in 2018. Alex is currently pursuing his Master’s degree at the University of Nebraska Omaha where in addition to studying psychology with a focus in trauma counseling, with the goal of helping other veterans, he also competes in collegiate wheelchair basketball. Alex enjoys cheering on Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sundays. He’s honored to represent the team on the field.

Shawn Runnells (#11)
Retired US Army Staff Sergeant Shawn Runnells served for more than nine years before he broke his patella in a 2016 training accident. As a result, he retired early from the military. A self-proclaimed huge sports guy, Shawn was excited to learn he could still compete, be active and participate in a team environment post-injury. He’s competed in the Warrior Games in cycling, track and wheelchair basketball and recreationally played other sports. Shawn recently competed for Team USA as part of the Invictus Games team in the Netherlands in 2022.

Matthew Scholten (#98)
Matthew Scholten served in the US Army for 20 years. On August 22, 2007 his vehicle hit an IED while on patrol outside Bagdad, Iraq. Matthew sustained several injures, including to his vertebrae, and required spinal surgery to continue walking. While at the Warrior Transition Unit during recovery, he discovered adaptive sports and excelled. He enjoyed them so much, that upon retirement he reached out to his local Move United member organization, Midwest Adaptive Sports. The group introduced Matthew to wheelchair football. Matthew is a Human Resources Assistant with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He loves cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes and is excited to represent his favorite team on the football field.

John Teegarden (#68)
John Teegarden is a retired US Army Sergeant. In 2004, after his service, John sustained a spinal cord injury. After completing his rehabilitation, he discovered adaptive sports and serves on the board of Midwest Adaptive Sports. He’s active in wheelchair softball, and has represented Team USA three times on the national team. John is excited to represent the Kansas City Chiefs as they are his favorite team, and he especially loves cheering for Travis Kelce.

Featuring the Los Angeles Rams Veterans

Jhoonar Barrera (#9)
Sergeant Jhoonar Barrera served in the US Army from 1999-2007. In 2007, after he left the Army, Jhoonar sustained a spinal cord injury in a work-related accident and was paralyzed from the waist down. After his injuries, he reconnected with the military community through adaptive sports, participating in wheelchair basketball and competing for the Army team at Warrior Games.

Bart Salgado (#32)
Bart Salgado served in the U.S. Marine Corps during Desert Storm. After leaving the military, he was injured while working for the Union Pacific railroad. The injuries resulted in the loss of his right leg above the knee and left leg below the knee. Post-injury, Bart moved to Los Angeles, where he became highly involved in adaptive sports. He was a member of the initial rules committee for the USA Wheelchair Football League. A native of Chicago, Bart’s NFL loyalties remain with the Chicago Bears, but says the LA Rams have grown on him during his time in L.A. and through his participation with the Angel City Sports program.

Jose Miranda (#92)
Jose Miranda is a US Navy veteran. In 2004, while stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, a jet ran over his leg and he had his right leg amputated above the knee. After three years in therapy and recovery from multiple surgeries and infections, Jose had his leg amputated. Soon after, Jose discovered adaptive sports and has participated in cycling, wheelchair basketball, skiing, and now wheelchair football.