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Warrior Champions a RENAUD BROTHERS film 

Renaud Brothers -

From the battlefields of Iraq to the Olympic playing fields of Beijing, Warrior Champions; From Baghdad to Beijing tells the emotional and inspiring story of a group of American Soldiers, severely wounded in the war in Iraq, as they take on their next great battle, turning Nightmares of War into Olympic Dreams. Iraq War Veterans Kortney Clemons, Scott Winkler, Melissa Stockwell, and Carlos Leon, an astonishing two years after losing limbs and suffering paralysis fighting for their country, have set out to do what many thought was impossible; become the first Iraq war veterans to compete in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

The film begins one year before the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, and follows Melissa, Scott, Carlos and Kortney on their unbelievable quest to make history as the first Iraq war veterans to make it to the Paralympics. Like the Olympics, only the world’s top disabled athletes ever make it to the Paralympics. Many of them have been disabled their entire lives, and have trained from a very young age. The Iraq war veterans in the film only became disabled a few short years ago, and have war wounds that haven’t fully healed. What they accomplish during the making of this documentary is nothing short of a miracle, considering the odds stacked against them. In the end, three of the four athletes followed in the film make it to Beijing, and one is left heartbroken. Their journey will inspire viewers beyond belief, and confirm a saying that Scott Winkler lives by, “If you believe, you can achieve anything!”

In addition to following the soldiers’ journey to Beijing, the film covers their most difficult and intimate moments along the way as they continue to struggle with their war injuries. The film also takes viewers inside the notorious Ward 57 of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Melissa and Scott mentor recently wounded soldiers who are battling depression. “I was in your shoes not too long ago.” Melissa tells Juan, who lost both of his legs in Iraq. “But I’m telling you, I’ve done more in life with one leg than I ever would have done with two.” We follow Juan during his recovery at Walter Reed. Viewers will witness how learning to walk again is a major accomplishment in and of itself. Doctors at Walter Reed say they never would have dreamed that a wounded soldier could make it to the Paralympics so quickly after sustaining traumatic war injuries.

Scott’s mother worries that he is overdoing it, and that his intensive weight training will destroy the only mobility he has left, his shoulders. Scott’s response, “If I inspire one wounded soldier along the way and make it to Beijing, then whatever happens to my body will be worth it.”

When Scott Winkler and Carlos Leon roll into the mighty Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and Melissa Stockwell swims in the Water Cube that Michael Phelps made famous, it’s truly hard to believe that a few short years ago they were lying in a hospital bed, wondering what their life would be like as a disabled veteran. Warrior Champions is not a sad tale of the tragedy of war, but rather an uplifting testament to the human spirit which challenges every notion of what it means to be disabled.


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