Jelle van der Steen (Dutch Team)

He had followed the first days of the Invictus Games via the website, the daily broadcasted program on Dutch Television NOS and an endless series of apps, videos and calls with his teammates. “But I had to and would go to The Hague”, says Jelle van der Steen. That, of course, was quite a challenge. Because how do you get someone who is in a hospital bed at an event? The Wish Ambulance brought a solution. Van der Steen can thus follow the matches of the wheelchair basketball team, his team, from the sidelines. In a bed.

Jelle van der Steen has been in hospital for the past 22 days. And soon, after the Invictus Games, he has to go back. He’s had two surgeries recently, has pressure ulcers, bedsores. “I have been in incredible pain since October. I’ve been on a lot of antibiotics, I’m in a special bed, but it just didn’t want to get better. So at some point I had to have surgery and admit I wasn’t going to make it to the Invictus Games.”

Although…. “I had a consultation with the doctor last week. I said: if you can put plasters on it, then I’m going to join. But it turned out to be impossible.”

The reception at the Invictus Games Park on Wednesday afternoon was incredible. When Van der Steen arrived with the Wish Ambulance, a hedge of participants was ready. Everyone came to greet him personally afterwards, there was crying and laughing. Interviews, photos, Jelle made everything happen. Enjoyed visibly. Princely in his bed. On Thursday and Friday, he was down the line at his team’s wheelchair competitions. As part of the team he was part of until recently. “It almost felt like I was participating.” A meeting with the Duke of Sussex and a photo shoot with Invictus Games competitor Fenna completed the story. Jelle is the donor father of Liva, the daughter of Fenna and her partner Bertine. “That too is of course a very special story.”