In the words of the late legendary basketball coach John Wooden, mountains reveal character rather than shape it.
Emotions were high at the 36th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic as 130 attendees climbed Snowmass Village, Colorado to participate in adaptive skiing, sled hockey, curling, snowboarding, snowmobiling and fly fishing . Co-hosted by DAV and the Department of Veterans Affairs, the event elevated veteran athletes with disabilities across the country who stepped up to meet new challenges and hone their alpine skills.
“We’ve come from all over the country to gather here for a chance to test our mettle,” said National Commander Andrew Marshall as he kicked off the clinic. Over the course of the week, this bond grows while having fun, and even wrestling with the challenges that this event brings.”
It was the first time since 2019 that veterans traveled to Colorado for a clinic due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I cannot thank our gracious co-presenter VA enough.” It is a testimony to all.”
For disabled veteran William “Bud” McLeroy, the event was a chance to connect with fellow veterans while honing his already impressive skiing proficiency.
McLeroy has attended all winter sports clinics since 2012. The Purple Heart winner was injured in 2004 near the city of Sadr, Baghdad. However, the first injury to change his life was in a car accident, in which McCleroy lost his right leg.
But when his Army Reserve units were activated for the Iraq War, he refused to sit down. rice field. While he was relieving Iraqi civilians during a shootout, a wall collapsed around him, crushing McCleroy and opening his stomach.
“It’s just starting to gut,” he said. “So I put them back together, bandaged them up, and went back to work another month.
But his medical problems didn’t stop there.
Eight years after the accident, I suffered from back pain for a long time, and then I learned that my spinal cord had stiffened and my back had become thicker, and I needed a wheelchair. After being hospitalized for nearly two years, he left his military service.
It was while receiving treatment at the San Diego VA Medical Center that he was referred to the National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic.
“I said, ‘Anything’,” he recalls.
McLeroy was awarded the 2022 DAV Freedom Award for his motivation and fearlessness, given to the participant who best embodies the spirit of the Winter Sports Clinic.
For many veterans, clinics are a chance to push yourself. Participants included veterans requiring wheelchairs, amputees, people with visual impairments, and people with traumatic brain injuries. Blind skiers were equipped with helmet communication devices to converse with their guides.
For army veteran Nate Turner, who was the first to attend from Texas, the week was all about thanking everyone who made this year’s clinic possible.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words,” he said. “I want to thank the people who put this together, the people who are volunteering. It’s very heartwarming and I appreciate it very much.”
At the clinic, I saw several veterans eager to test their tenacity on the slopes. For many, the clinic was his first chance to “shred the powder” since 2019. Larry Lewis, a Marine Corps veteran returning from Fresno, California, is right where he left off. He said his first experience at the event was life-changing.
“I was told not to walk or jump or do anything I normally do,” Lewis said. I had to smile up and down the hill.”
At the event’s closing ceremony, Veterans Affairs Secretary Dennis McDonagh praised the clinic attendees for inspiring fellow citizens.
“When experienced athletes participate in adaptive sports, it sends a powerful message to spectators, sponsors, therapists, doctors and other veterans,” McDonough said. “Its message is about veterans’ perseverance, the endurance of the human spirit, the strength of Americans—America as a whole.”