Assistant State Attorney Matt O’Keefe recently had the honor of serving as Deputy Head of Games for the 2017 Department of Defense’s Warrior Games in Chicago.
The world-class Paralympic competition showcased the extraordinary resilience and recovery of more than 250 adaptive-sport military athletes who participated in eight events at venues across the city. The athletes came from across the U.S., United Kingdom, and Australia, and were joined by more than 400 family members over the nine days of events.
As Deputy Head of Games, Admiral O’Keefe — who has spent nearly 30 years serving his country in active duty and the Reserves — was responsible for every aspect of the Warrior Games. That included operations, logistics, security, marketing, mass media, public relations, and transportation for the athletes and their families.
“I have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest Americans who have proudly worn the cloth of our military services,” said O’Keefe, “yet even I could not have anticipated how inspirational it would be to participate in the Warrior Games.”
O’Keefe said the veterans he met had suffered tremendous physical and mental wounds, “yet they chose to fight on and persevere against almost insurmountable odds.”
“These athletes define resilience,” said O’Keefe. “They epitomize honor, courage, and commitment. And I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet and get to know them.”
O’Keefe wasn’t the only one who assisted in the Warrior Games — his family joined him to volunteer for the event. His sons acted as spotters in field events, assisted in course safety in cycling, scoring in archery, and served as ball boys for seated volleyball and wheelchair basketball. His older son even had the chance to serve as a loader during the air rifle medal competition. Not to be outdone, his wife served as Protocol Lead for all medal ceremonies, ensuring more than 1,000 medal presentations were handled with the appropriate respect and honors each athlete deserved.
O’Keefe said it was an inspirational event for the entire family.