ELK GROVE VILLAGE – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today named U.S. Navy Veteran and wheelchair athlete Darwin Coligado as the June 2010 Veteran of the Month .
The Illinois “Veteran of the Month” award is a distinction that is given to military Veterans who give back to their community and continue to serve other Veterans. IDVA Assistant Director Sergio Estrada presented the award to Coligado at a ceremony at Elk Grove Village City Hall. Coligado, 35, lives in Elk Grove Village.
“Darwin Coligado has the heart and spirit of a champion, and has been an inspiration to fellow veterans, other wheelchair athletes and the community as a whole,” said Estrada. “We salute his hard work, dedication, positive attitude and commitment to reaching his goals and inspiring others.”
Coligado served nine years of active duty and four years of Reserve service in the Navy, during which he served as a photographer, navigator, communications officer and mission commander. He has been awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, among others.
Coligado lost the use of his legs as the result of a motorcycle accident following military service. He became interested in wheelchair sports through the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, where he learned to use a race chair, and began training in racing, track, hand-cycling and swimming. Coligado has competed in the National Junior Disability Championships, the National Veteran Wheelchair Games and the Chicago Marathon.
Coligado also serves as a peer mentor for the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association, and is an active member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The “Veteran of the Month” award highlights the work of community activists who are also military Veterans. Each month the Department recognizes a different person or group that contributes to the betterment of communities across the state of Illinois. To nominate a “Veteran of the Month,” please visit IDVA’s website at veterans.illinois.gov to obtain a list of guidelines and a nomination form.