The soldiers, accompanied by a family member and/or friend, arrive in Telluride on the heels of lengthy rehabilitative stays at either the Brooke Army Medical Center or Walter Reed Hospital. Their disabilities range from amputations to burns and other medical issues; they come from all around the U.S.
The project is a partnership between TASP, Disabled Sports-USA and the Wounded Warriors Program, based in Roanoke, Va.
"TASP is so excited to make this happen," says longtime Telluride ski instructor Dianne Pauls, who has taught able-bodied and disabled skiers for the past eight years. "The whole TASP team is very excited to make this a great weekend for the soldiers!"
"We want to treat them like heroes," says TASP boardmember Jim Nerlin, a Vietnam veteran, "when they come to Telluride Ski Area and this community. We would like any type of support this community has to offer to aid in our efforts of bringing these soldiers here.
"Let's show them what a great community we have."
TASP instructors and volunteers will assess each soldier's individual needs and goals, clarify disability and medical issues and then assign them to appropriate equipment or adaptive equipment as needed. Soldiers will receive one-on-one attention, and a TASP ski buddy if needed.
A small celebration will be held in honor of the Wounded Warriors on Saturday, March 25, at 3 p.m. in the Mountain Village Plaza. Mountain Village Mayor Davis Fansler and San Miguel County Commissioner Vern Ebert will officiate. Ebert, who is also a veteran, will present a letter from General Norman Schwarzkopf.
Telluride's Dianne and Glenn Pauls are sponsoring the event, alongside Flip Mullins' Graybeards, a group formed after 9/11.
TASP is the local chapter of Disabled Sports USA, founded in 1967 by Vietnam veterans with disabilities and 10th Mountain Division veterans with the goal of providing sports rehabilitation and elite sports programs for veterans and civilians facing the challenge of disability. Also a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, DS/USA now has 85 chapters providing rehabilitation and sports services in 36 states, and offers more than 20 different winter and summer sports programs.
DS/USA's 37 years of experience has shown that early intervention with active sports results in successful rehabilitation, leading to employment and the return to a healthy lifestyle. The "Wounded Warriors" and their family members are provided these opportunities free of charge, including transportation, lodging, adaptive equipment and individualized instruction in over a dozen different winter and summer sports.
This event follows last month's successful Expand Your Horizons ski camp, in which Mark Mix and Ron Magnus, two veteran soldiers participated. Magnus was injured as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam; Mix, an engineer in Iraq, was injured on a building site. Monoskier Sarah Will, one of the most decorated Paralympics athletes in the world, and a member of the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame, coached the two veterans, alongside Bill Bowness, the first monoskier to make the U.S. Demonstration Team for Professional Ski Instructors of America. Bowness is also a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski team and a Paralympics medal winner in Lillehammer, Norway. For more information, contact TASP at 970-728-7537 or firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit our website at tellurideadaptivesports.org.