Snowmass Village, CO
More than 400 veterans traveled to Snowmass Village, Colorado, to participate in the 26th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic March 25 - 30, 2012. The event is sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Disabled American Veterans, and receives support from corporate sponsors including Booz Allen Hamilton.
The theme of the 2012 event was “Miracles on a Mountainside,” and that theme was echoed by Eli Cantarero, a blind skier, just after he completed a snowboard run. “It’s pretty amazing what the people here can do; it helps them to grow and move forward.” That is just what the clinic is designed to do—help veterans who are facing new challenges find ways to live life to the fullest while overcoming their disabilities.
Clinic participants include veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, orthopedic amputations or other disabilities, who receive care at any VA health care facility. Disabled veterans come to the clinic to learn and participate in a variety of outdoor sports activities including Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, rock climbing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, curling and sled hockey. On hand to assist clinic participants in learning to ski were over 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.
The veterans also had the opportunity to set their sights higher and become eligible for recommendation to American Paralympic teams, and engage in national and international competitions. Scott Winkler, an Army veteran who came to the 2012 clinic to mentor veterans, was discovered at the 2006 United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Sports Camp and quickly worked his way up the ranking list in shot put and discus to become a U.S. gold medalist and American record holder.
As they have for years, employees from Booz Allen Hamilton volunteered their time at the 2012 event to assist in a variety of capacities, such as promotion, logistics and above all--moral support, engagement and encouragement. “This is my 5th year as a volunteer supporting the Winter Sports Clinic,” said Beth Mahan, Booz Allen Principal. “I am always amazed at the level of emotion, inspiration and motivation of the veterans and their families. In many cases this is the first time they forget about their disability and feel normal. We are so lucky to work for a company that supports these efforts and helps us give back to our clients and community.”
View the digital photos and watch the YouTube videos to hear the stories told on the mountainside and witness the resilience displayed by these courageous warriors as they rehabilitate by challenging themselves through adaptive winter sports.