BY JON LUJAN
|World Championships slalom in La Molina, Spain
| Allison Jones and I
| Hall of famer Monte Meyer and I
|John Register, the VA's Dr. Tommy Sowers and I
|Ralph Green, Stephanie Jallen and I|
Hello, all. Less than 330 days until the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi Russia! Wow, it’s going to be here before I know it. With the ski season ending, the last few weeks have been very busy for me and I had back-to-back events to attend. This month, I am giving a shout-out to the place where this journey began for me, as well as an amazing non-profit that provides a good deal of the national team’s funding.
As mentioned in a previous blog I started skiing again thanks to the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. The following was taken from the VA’s website.
“The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic is a world-leader in adaptive winter sports instruction for U.S. military Veterans and active duty servicemen and women with disabilities.
Set in stunning Snowmass, Colorado, the Clinic will celebrate its 27th year by bringing nearly 400 Veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions and other disabilities to the mountain.
More than 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled, and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, serve as ski instructors to meet the unique needs of the participants.
In addition to Alpine skiing, the Clinic also features a number of other sports including: cross country, rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, trapshooting and snowmobiling.
The Clinic is co-sponsored by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).”
Last year was my first year coming back as a mentor and this year was my first year as a member of the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing Team. This clinic was definitely a life changer for me, so I really have a strong sense of loyalty to this event.
I was able to ski with some veterans. For some, it was their first clinic and some that had been to several clinics. I love being on the other side, it brought back many memories. I remember the first day of the clinic, when I was apprehensive to talk to anyone, and the last day when I was talking to everyone.
Being a volunteer, I got to experience the transformation from the opposite side of the coin and let me tell you, it made me realize why the volunteer instructors come every year. That’s right, every one of the instructors volunteer their own time to come to this event.
If you ever have the chance to attend this clinic as a volunteer, please do. To any disabled veteran out there, if you have never attended this event I highly recommend it! You don’t need to go all the way to the Paralympics, nor do you need to have been injured in a conflict; you only have to be service connected. I just want you to become active and stay active for the other 51 weeks of the year! I hope to be able to give back to the VA and this event for many years to come.
I had to leave the NDVWSC a few days early to attend another amazing event – Adaptive Spirit 2013. This was its 18th year. The following was taken from their website.
“The Adaptive Spirit Ski Event is a fundraising event that generates more than half of the operating budget for the U.S. National Paralympic Ski Team each year. It heralds as one of the best cable and telecommunications industry networking events in the country - and hoping to expand its appeal to additional industries as well - the event raises funds that directly benefit the remarkable athleticism and competitive spirit of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team, allowing the organization to remain the top disabled ski team in the world.”
Our team this next year is going to be doing a significant amount of traveling; normally we only have four World Cup stops, but with the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games, we are going to have nine stops. We also travel to eight-10 Nor AM events. Each one of the World Cup trips costs anywhere from $10,000 to $18,000 per athlete, depending on what country we are visiting and which resort we are staying at. So, as you can imagine, without the support of Adaptive Spirit, we wouldn’t be able to have as many athletes on the team, nor would we be able to attend all of the World Cup events. The amount of support we get is not only measured financially, but the industry helps to spread the word, and, as you can imagine, the cable and telecommunications industries have a broad reach.
With less than 11 months to go on the #RoadtoSochi I know have a couple of weeks to get some R&R and then I kick off into full swing on May 1 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Go Team USA!