The 2017 Warrior Games Kicked off Saturday in Chicago's Soldier Field, hosted by John Stewart and featuring US Marine Sarah Rudder.This is the first year that the games have been held in a location outside of a military base.During the ceremony, Stewart's remarks were geared toward one message: honoring the brave men and women competing in these games."[While facing] difficulties beyond their control, they had a choice to make. And they chose not just to survive, but to thrive," Steward stated.Each team was introduced and honored; in addition to the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy, teams from SOCOM, the United Kingdom, and Australia also joined the games this year.[caption id="attachment_12733" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]
Athletes and their families look on during the opening ceremonies. (Photo: Sylvia Gaenzle)[/caption]Sarah Rudder, a Marine and competitor in previous games, was also prominently featured in the opening ceremony. While she won't be competing this year, she walked the torch to the stage alongside representatives from each team so that the flame could be lit, signaling the start of the games.In an exclusive interview with American Grit, Rudder called the experience, "an honor.""I'm here to inspire them, so that they can turn around and inspire others... I couldn't have asked for a better thing than to come out here and represent the Marine Corps and [support] the other branches," she said.Following the ceremony, concerts by Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton rocked Soldier Field late into the night.The Warrior Games is an annual competition specifically for wounded veterans. Competitions and events include archery, wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, swimming, track and field events, shooting, and more. The games are sponsored this year by the Fisher House and Boeing, among others. Grunt Style was also featured as the official fan apparel company this year.Keep following American Grit for exclusive coverage of the games this year!