Watch highlights from this year’s National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in the video above.
This spring, nearly 400 disabled Veterans with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations and visual impairments spent a week challenging and overcoming perceived limitations through adaptive skiing, sled hockey, scuba diving, rock wall climbing and education.
The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, sponsored by Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and held in Snowmass, Colorado, is a world-leader in adaptive winter sports instruction. In 2019, the clinic celebrated its 33rd year helping Veterans create their own “Miracles on the Mountainside.”
These Veterans, supported by volunteer coaches, VA staff and caregivers, defied challenges head-on as they spent their days conquering the snow-covered mountainside and competing in winter sports. World-class instructors were on hand to teach Veterans new skills, allowing them to achieve their maximum potential. For some, it is just the beginning of a new lifestyle. Along the way, the clinic has been the catalyst for introducing dozens of Veterans to athletic glory as Paralympic athletes.
Every Veteran who participates has a story to tell.
Veteran Francis Osorio-Rivera says she is always hungry for a challenge and in Snowmass she went from one extreme sport to the next. The Miami Veteran used the kiteboard skills to take on snowboarding.
Navy Veteran Scott Nelson’s wife says her husband owes his life to adaptive sports and VA therapists. Just six months before this year’s clinic he was in a nursing home – unable to walk or talk. In Snowmass, he flew down the mountain in a sit-ski.
Legally-blind WWII Navy Veteran Warren Heyer may not be able to drive a car, but that doesn’t mean he can’t experience the thrill of speed — the 94-year-old just crossed skiing off his bucket list.
These are just a few of the hundreds of personal victories experienced by the men and women who have served our country – and 2020 will bring many more tales to tell. Registration for the 2020 Winter Sports Clinic will begin in August. For more information, go to https://www.wintersportsclinic.org.
About the Author: Donna J. Bell is the communication manager at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center.