Desert Challenge Games brings para-athletes to the Valley

TEMPE, Ariz. (FOX 10) - Hundreds of special needs athletes from across the world are in the Valley for the Desert Challenge Games.

More than 400 special needs athletes from across the world are in the Valley at Arizona State University for the Desert Challenge Games. Para-athletes are competing in air rifle,m swimming, and archery along with today's main event - track and field.

"It's a serious event," said Taylor Wilson, event director with Desert Challenge Games. "These are your top-level paralympic athletes that are out there competing. They're your para-Olympians."

Athletes as young as seven to as old as 70 have traveled to the Valley from more than 17 countries. Regardless of their disability, these para-athletes are fierce competitors.

"None of these athletes, if you ask them, I don't think any of them would say they have a disability," Wilson said. "They've just got a different set of abilities."

Striving to make their national teams and hopefully break both national and world records, they're here to win.

"You've got to overcome it," said Jasmyn McCulloch, a javelin competitor from Canada. "We're here, we're athletes - we're not any different from anyone else."

Regardless of all odds, these athletes just enjoy competing for fun.

"When you do it long enough, it kind of just becomes second nature," said Kevin Messner, a sprinter from Arizona. "And at the end, the full, able-bodied people are just fun competition to catch up to."