Have you got a Luna or a Lene?
The Invictus Games Foundation joined the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, on Cockatoo Island. The first medal event of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018…
“Here he’s not the only one” Luna says. “He’s with friends and other people just like him. Here he’s happy.”
13-year-old Luna is bright, confident, mature and – thankfully for me – speaks fluent English.
“I’m in Seventh Grade” She tells me proudly. “I’m on my Autumn Break at the moment, but school have let me take a bit more time off to be here to support Dad.”
Luna’s father is the Captain of the Danish team, Kim Wilsborg. As we chat in the Family & Friends stand at the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge, Kim is, to coin an Aussie phrase, ‘hooning around’ the specially built driving course in a very expensive Jaguar.
“Is your support, your being here, important to him?”
“Very!” Luna says. “He’s so much happier when we’re around to cheer him on.” And I can see why. Ear to ear smiles and infectious laughter punctuate every pause.
Luna and her aunt, Kim’s sister Lene, are crammed into a section of stand that one supporter proudly calls, ‘Little Denmark’. The stand is festooned in Danish flags. Every friend and family member has their face painted; proudly they’re decked out head-to-toe in red and white.
I ask Lene how Kim came to be involved in the Invictus Games…
“He was diagnosed with PTSD a couple of years ago, but in reality, I think he’s suffered in silence for a lot longer”, Lene explains.
“We are so very proud of him. What he has achieved and how far he has come.”
“Has it been difficult” I ask?
“Sure. He gets tired and a bit stressed, but this, being here with friends and other veterans helps… a lot! Well, that and the dog.”
Luna jumps in: “He talks to Cocio more than he talks to anyone.”
“Cocio? Presumably that’s the dog?” I ask.
“Yes, he loves Cocio!”
Lene touches on her brother’s time in Iraq. The things he was involved in and the things he has been through. She only briefly discusses it and she quickly moves on. There is so much joy in Little Denmark it is clear she doesn’t want to bring the mood down with talk of anything too serious. I don’t push it.
“So what are you most looking forward to while you’re here in Sydney?” I ask.
Without hesitation, “The opening ceremony”, comes the response in perfect unison.
“Tonight we are carrying the flag in.” Lene says, gripping Luna’s hand. “And of course watching Kim. We’re looking forward to that as well.” Although it’s clear the flag is going to be a highlight.
Spending time with Luna and Lene I am reminded that every competitor has their own story. No two are the same. But the one thing that nearly all of them have in common, is the support of loving and patient family and friends.
Behind every Kim, there is a Luna and a Lene who supporting, cheering and holding that hand. It’s that love that enables the Service.
As I kick back in Little Denmark and survey the other stands of Little Italy, Little France, Little Romania, it hits me; the Invictus Games, whether by design or otherwise, seems as important for the loved ones, as it is for the competitors.
When I think of Luna and Lene, I think that’s the Invictus spirit.
By Liam Maguire