Some 350 veterans from across the United States, all of whom have been challenged in their lives with at least one disability that in several cases includes vision loss, have converged this week on Snowmass Village, Colorado.
The purpose of their trip, the 29th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic held March 29-April 3, consists of five days of physically demanding competition, training, instructional workshops, rehabilitative recreation, leisure activities that offer participants new opportunities for camaraderie and the attainment of new personal heights.
Co-sponsored and organized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the clinic is the largest rehabilitative program of its kind in the world today.
Activities in 1987, its inaugural year, were primarily adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing. They have grown over the years to curling, scuba diving, fly fishing, wheel chair golf, wheelchair self-defense, wheelchair fencing, amputee volleyball, rock wall climbing, sled hockey, trap shooting, blues harmonica instruction, dog sledding, kayaking, and even goal ball for the blind and visually impaired.
The clinic targets disabled veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations, neurological disorders, and visual impairments. It seeks to enable veterans to re-discover their lives after facing a new disability and encouraging them to reject the limits that society poses on them because of such a disability. The long-term goal is to help the disabled veteran achieve higher levels of self-actualization and empower him/her to live a happier, healthier, and more productive lifestyle.
Although expenses such as lift tickets, meals, and equipment are covered by the event, attendees pay for their own transportation and hotel rooms. The balance of the event budget, approximately 80 percent, is taken care of by donations and sponsorships.