MANATEE -- IMG Academy has been a training ground for upper-echelon athletes for years.
Some of the world's best tennis players.
Collegians honing their skills for the National Football League.
This week it will host an even more extraordinary group of young men and women: 30 members of the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors of the U.S. armed forces in innovative ways.
They will take part in the Wounded Warrior Project & IGNITE 360 Health and Fitness Expo this week at the IMG Performance headquarters, 5500 34th St. W.
After registration, a tour and meet-and-greet Wednesday evening, they'll engage in physical conditioning and classroom work Thursday through Saturday with the goal of gaining knowledge and training programming for an active, competitive and healthy lifestyle.
Teaming with IMG Performance was a natural fit, said a Wounded Warrior Project official.
"Over the past decade, we've looked for new, innovative programs to meet the needs of our wounded armed forces members as they return home," said Jason Martinez, a senior physical health and wellness specialist. "Our programs are structured to nurture the mind and body, and with this event we know that our alumni will take away invaluable knowledge to help them in their personal lives and in their efforts to assist one another."
IMG Performance and Wounded Warrior Project will collaborate to implement a comprehensive program for service members including education in disciplines such as physical and mental conditioning, nutrition and communication.
"We are excited to share our training system, which was developed over 30 years of training elite-level athletes at IMG Academy, with these brave servicemen and women who have given so much for our freedom," said Brian Griffin, vice president of IMG Performance and president of IGNITE 360. "At its core, it's designed to bring the same training principles that have propelled athletes of all ages and empowered them to be at their best when their best is needed, to the broader performance marketplace."
Wounded Warrior Project started when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need.
What began as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist them as they recover and transition back to civilian life.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix