Disabled Veterans Ski the Rocky Mountains
HOUSTON - Five disabled veterans who receive treatment at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center will be among 350 other disabled veterans from across the country, including recently injured veterans from the Global War on Terror, to ski the Rocky Mountains at the 21st National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village at Aspen, Colo., April 1 - 6, 2007.
The local veterans attending this year include David Fowler, 46, an Army veteran from Katy; Kevin Kuddes, 37, an Army veteran from College Station; Evo Marini, 62, an Air Force veteran from Bailey Prairie; Al Perdew, a Marine veteran from Pasadena and William Watson, 44, an Army veteran from Needville.
Sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Clinic is hosted each year by the Grand Junction (Colo.) VA Medical Center and VA’s Rocky Mountain Network.
“This is a great experience,” said Watson. “It’s a chance to get away and do something with the guys. Once you’re on top of the mountain, it’s an awesome experience to ski down to the bottom. It gives me a chance to do things I didn’t think I would be able to do again. I attended this clinic last year and I love it.”
The annual winter clinic is a rehabilitation program open to all U.S. military veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, orthopedic amputations or other disabilities, who receive care at any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facility.
At the event, participants will have the opportunity to learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and be introduced to a variety of other adaptive activities and sports, such as rock climbing, scuba diving, snowmobiling and sled hockey. The U.S. Secret Service will also teach a course on self-defense designed for people with disabilities.
Most notably, however, the clinic will again offer a training and development program designed for top-level skiers. The program has been made possible through an agreement with the United States Olympic Committee and is used to identify potential Paralympic athletes.
“The daily courage and determination of these true American heroes are examples for us all,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “The men and women of the Department of Veterans Affairs are proud to serve these wounded and disabled veterans on their path to recovery.”
Known for inspiring "Miracles on the Mountainside," the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic shows that the lives of veterans with disabilities can be changed forever when they discover the challenges they can overcome.
VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitation, with recreational therapy programs at each of its 155 hospitals. DAV, which has co-sponsored the event since 1991, is a nonprofit, congressionally chartered veterans service organization, with a membership of more than one million wartime disabled veterans.
For more information about the Winter Sports Clinic, visit the event Web site at www.wintersportsclinic.org.
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