BOEC in the News

Breckenridge Brewery supports BOEC

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2016 by BOEC

Breckenridge BreweryBreckenridge Brewery is proud to support BOEC by donating $1 from every tour reservation fee from July through December!  The production brewery in Littleton offers public tours Thursday through Monday. The $3 tour reservation fee (of which $1 is donated) includes 5 tastings, an informative tour of Colorado’s 3rd oldest craft brewery, and memorable camaraderie!  Those not interested in tasting, or those under 21, are welcome to tour the brewery at no charge.  Reservations can be made in advance at

Many thanks from the BOEC to Breckenridge Brewery!

(Please note that the tour donation program applies to tours of the Breckenridge Brewery production facility in Littleton, Colorado. The Breckenridge Brewery here in Breck on Main Street has long supported BOEC through donations to fund-raising events.)


Slifer Smith & Frampton Foundation Gift Match

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2016 by BOEC

live local give local

Summer Match Madness

Starting July 8 through July 31 your donations can go twice as far!

This means that Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate will match all donations, dollar for dollar, to local Summit County charities up to a total of $15,000!

To have your donation to BOEC matched, visit and GIVE starting July 8th!

About the Summer Match Madness matching program:

In keeping with the SSF Foundation’s giving philosophy, donations must be direct contributions made to the pre-approved list of nonprofit organizations, which includes the BOEC. The SSF Foundation will match up to $2,000.00 per single organization in an effort to diversify giving. 

Breckebeiner ski-a-thon returns for BOEC’s 40th anniversary

Posted Saturday, March 19th, 2016 by BOEC

The breathless skiers finished the final six-kilometer circuit, skating back to the Breckenridge Nordic Center. One dedicated 65-year-old woman had been skiing since 5 a.m. to reach her goal of just over 60 kilometers.

The parade of costumed skiers dedicated their efforts to help raise funds for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, as part of the annual Breckebeiner 60k Nordic Ski-a-Thon and Snowshoe.

Breckenridge Nordic Center program director Therese Dayton recalled previous years, when she skied the full 60k, with friends offering to donate funds for each kilometer.

“Each time I came around, I was ready to quit, until I started thinking, I’m not just skiing to raise money for BOEC,” she said. “I’m skiing so one individual can afford to come and have a total mountain experience in Breckenridge, and there’s no better place. It renewed my strength to ski in a blizzard.”

This year’s event was far from a blizzard, with costumed skiers grinning ear-to-ear in the groomed powder and bluebird skies. Inside, local duo Andy Grogger and Peter Krainz serenaded the group with Austrian folk music. The EpicPromise Foundation provided food for the event, while the Breckenridge Nordic Center donated skis, snowshoes and volunteers.

“They donate everything for the event, so there’s no cost,” BOEC development director Marci Sloan said. “100 percent is going to us. It’s really great.”

Last year, the event brought in a fundraising record of $40,000. This year, the event brought in $18,000 in advance of the race.

“Most years, (the money) goes to the tuition fund to help people who can’t afford it,” Sloan said. “If they need additional scholarships, it will go toward them attending our camps.”


The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s programs are focused on providing outdoor experiences to a wide group of participants, from the visually impaired to injured veterans to at-risk students. All fees are subsidized, with the BOEC serving 2,520 participants from more than 40 states. This year, the program is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“Here in our 40th year, we’re starting a capital campaign to raise $1.8 million to keep us going for the next 40 years,” BOEC executive director Bruce Fitch said. “We already have 60 percent of that raised.”

The funds will go to staff housing, office upgrades, program and activity improvements at the Wilderness Campus and a larger scholarship endowment. BOEC’s current programs include an adaptive ski and ride school, and a variety of summer and winter activities custom-designed for specific groups.

“Across the board, they’re all working on interpersonal skills, confidence, having fun in outdoors, learning new skill set,” Wilderness programs director Jaime Benthin said. “We’re opening their eyes to something they don’t get to do every day.”

The BOEC works with the Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado, Mountain Mentors, Summit County Youth and Family Services, Children’s Hospital Colorado and numerous other organizations.

“It’s amazing the program they’re running and how many thousands of people are served annually with BOEC,” Therese Dayton added.

Her experience with the program also holds a special significance for her — it was how she met Gene Dayton.

“Feb. 10, 1985 was the day I met my husband,” she recalled. “It’s the reason we met because I was coming here to work with BOEC. It just happened the program was here.”

Gene Dayton, co-founder of the Breckenridge Nordic Center, is considered the founding director of the BOEC. And the Breckebeiner event was formed after another notable anniversary — Gene’s 60th birthday.

“On my husband’s 50th birthday, I surprised him with 180 friends. He was in shock,” Therese Dayton laughed.

For his 60th, instead of being the recipient of another surprise party, Gene Dayton took inspiration from Norwegian cross-country skier Freda Langell, who skied 75,000 vertical feet for her 75th birthday to raise funds for a local nonprofit. In Gene’s case, it was 60k for his 60th birthday.

“I’m just about finished,” Gene Dayton said, sitting at a table at the lodge. Having skied 42k earlier that day, he had just a few laps to go.

“It was a real joy to be part of an organization that had a future and longevity,” he said.

“It really brings people hope, gives them a chance to try some outdoor activities, and take that experience or accomplishment home,” Therese Dayton added. “You go and meet people and see how it’s changed their lives. They surprise me with the wonder of it all, the joy of being in the mountains — it’s very healing.”

The Summit Daily
March 19, 2016

BOEC brings Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour to Breckenridge for 7th year

Posted Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 by BOEC

In the trailer for “Climbing Ice: The Iceland Trifecta,” an ice climber smiles as she claws her way out of a large hole in the ice, wearing a large backpack.

“Another great day in paradise,” she quips, slightly out of breath, to her comrades.

That sentence may well describe any of the films to be seen at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Breckenridge this Friday, Feb. 26. For the seventh year, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center is hosting the film festival, bringing jaw-dropping films to the exact type of audience that loves them — residents and visitors of the Colorado Rockies.

Nine films were chosen to be shown at this year’s Breckenridge stop, and each offers a glimpse of the lives of adventurous individuals.

Some, like “Climbing Ice” and “Women’s Speed Ascent,” document attempts at breaking records and achieving feats never done before. “Reel Rock 10: A Line Across the Sky” is the longest of the films at 40 minutes and focuses on climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold taking on the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia. The traverse, which has at times been called impossible, consists of four miles, six peaks and 13,000 vertical feet. The views are breathtaking.

Those yearning for summer will find a treat in “UnReal,” which follows the exploits of mountain bikers — though they do tackle some snowy terrain as well.

A few of the films go beyond the physical exploits and look into the mindset of what makes the outdoors special, such as “The Important Places.” “Ice Climbers” and “Eclipse” offer a photographer’s perspective on these types of journeys as well.

“We always pick the top award winners,” said BOEC development director Marci Sloan, on deciding which films will be shown in Breckenridge. “We really try to stick with the theme of the celebration of the outdoors or a great human story. And that fits well with our mission.”


The BOEC is a locally-based nonprofit that provides educational, instructive and enjoyable experiences to people with disabilities and special needs. Situated on 39 acres near Breckenridge, the BOEC facility includes a lodge, climbing wall and high-ropes course. Its year-round programming features options for children and adults to participate in a number of active engagements.

Among its programs is an Adaptive Ski and Ride school, in which instructors help those with disabilities to learn to ski and snowboard. This includes wounded veterans, many attending The Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge each year. The BOEC also hosts wilderness programs in summer and winter, professional team-building retreats and an internship program. Proceeds from the film festival are put toward supporting these adaptive programs.

“It’s our hugest awareness event,” Sloan said. “We see lots of benefits from the event, whether it’s somebody becoming a new donor or volunteer or coming on our programs.”


This year, the BOEC will also celebrate its 40th anniversary as a Summit County nonprofit organization. As chance would have it, the Banff film festival just celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. The films showing this Saturday are all its 2015 films, from the 40th celebration.

As in past years, there will be a VIP reception before the film festival, including food and drinks. The Pine Beatles, a local band, will also be performing.

Tickets for the festival are currently available online at Sloan urges people to buy them online rather than waiting, as they sell out every year.

Summit Daily News
February 23, 2016

BOEC Receives Major Support from Marmot Mountain LLC

Posted Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 by BOEC

BRECKENRIDGE, CO – (August 3, 2015) – Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC), is pleased to announce that it has received a large donation of quality outdoor clothing and gear from renowned outdoor products manufacturer Marmot Mountain LLC. The clothing and gear, valued at over $20,000, will be issued to BOEC students and staff, and for use at BOEC events.

“We are extremely pleased and honored to be recognized by Marmot. Many of our students with disabilities come to our courses under-prepared and providing use of quality rain and snow wear, gloves, warm clothing, etc. is critical to their enjoyment and success on course. In addition, providing quality outdoor wear to our staff is a huge benefit for their hard work,” says Bruce Fitch, Executive Director of BOEC.

Marmot Mountain LLC, based in Rohnert Park, CA, is world-renowned for their high quality outdoor wear and equipment and has long been a strong supporter of non-profit causes. “Marmot is pleased to offer this support to BOEC. We are honored to provide our products to an often under-recognized outdoor enthusiast—those with disabilities and special needs, including wounded warriors and their families,” says Tom Fritz, VP of Marketing for Marmot. “Marmot has been supporting wounded warrior programs for many years since the Iran conflict took one of our own staff into the National Guard and away from home for close to two years. We are all pleased to continue to make a difference,” adds Laura Miera, VP of Technical Product Development for Marmot. See more on their website,

Wounded Warriors Family Adventure offers off-snow outdoor experience

Posted Monday, September 28th, 2015 by BOEC

Eight families participated in the Wounded Warriors Family Mountain Experience Program Sept. 12-17. The families took part in team building activities, canoeing and a ropes course on the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center campus before dinner at Carter Park. The program also included camping and rafting on the Colorado River.

In 2008, Bob and Bonnie Miller created The Wounded Warriors Family Ski Week to offer recreational therapy opportunities to soldiers severely wounded in combat operations. The Wounded Warriors Family Mountain Experience was designed for the family who prefers outdoor activities in the mountains without snowsports.

Summit Daily News
September 25, 2015

Congressman Polis to visit BOEC

Posted Monday, September 28th, 2015 by BOEC

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) will visit Breckenridge on Wednesday, Aug. 5, starting with a tour of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.

From 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., BOEC staff will show him the role the outdoors can play in rehabilitation and physical therapy and will talk with him about the importance of preserving outdoor spaces for future generations.

He recently introduced a public land conservation bill — the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act — that would designate about 58,000 acres of wilderness and other special management areas in Summit and Eagle counties.

The bill was crafted with input from dozens of local stakeholder groups, including representatives from the ski and outdoor recreation industry, environmental groups, water districts and municipalities. In May, he hosted the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee to see the proposed areas.

Then Polis will host a public town hall meeting from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Breckenridge Grand Vacation Community Center and Summit County South Branch Library, at 103 S. Harris St. Residents are invited to ask questions and share thoughts, ideas and feedback.

Summit Daily News
August 4, 2015

Breckebeiner Nordic ski and snowshoe event benefits Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center

Posted Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by BOEC

It’s not every day that a pack of people dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles zoom around the trails at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. But if there is any day to expect that kind of thing, it’s the annual Breckebeiner ski-a-thon.

This will be the 13th year of the event, officially titled the Breckebeiner 60K Nordic Ski-a-thon and Snowshoe Bash. On Saturday, March 21, teams and individuals will take to the tracks, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to raise money for each kilometer they complete. All funds raised will be donated to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, a local nonprofit that provides educational outdoor programs to people with disabilities and special needs.


The BOEC has existed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization for the past 38 years. Among those who benefit from the organization’s programs are adults, children and injured veterans. Winter programs include adaptive snowsports lessons, like skiing and snowboarding. For the past 27 years, the BOEC has partnered with Disabled Sports USA to put on The Hartford Ski Spectacular, a five-day-long event that brings people with disabilities from all over the United States, including wounded veterans, to the slopes of Breckenridge Ski Resort to learn how to ski and snowboard. Classes range from beginner to those training to compete professionally.

Summer offers a variety of camp opportunities, from canoeing to a ropes course, over one or several days.

“The BOEC has a huge and wonderful and highly recognized Alpine ski program,” said Therese Dayton, who runs the Breckenridge Nordic Center with her husband Gene, one of the co-founders of the BOEC. “I don’t know that people always have the full picture, if you’re not intimately involved in it, that the BOEC is a very well-known year-round program. There’s availability for programming this summer.”

The donations raised from the Breckebeiner event will be specifically directed toward a fund that provides financial assistance for those who cannot afford the BOEC program fees. In the 2013-14 fiscal year the organization’s programs served 2,275 participants from 41 states and six countries. Of those participants, 32 percent took advantage of $165,409 worth of scholarships.


The Breckebeiner came into being in conjunction with Gene Dayton’s 60th birthday. He wanted to use his birthday to help a good cause.

“I do not just want a party for myself, I really want to do something where I set a goal, ski a certain distance and raise money for a nonprofit,” Therese recalled Gene telling her.

That first time, Gene asked his friends and family to cross-country ski with him to raise money for the BOEC. Since then, the event has grown, and locals and visitors alike participate, many wearing wigs and outlandish costumes.

The name Breckebeiner is a play on “birkebeiner,” a word with Norwegian roots. The American Birkebeiner is a cross-country ski race (54K for classic skiers, 50K freestyle). That race was named after the Birkebeinerrennet, a cross-country ski race in Norway, which commemorates a historical event in which two men carried the young king of Norway on skis through treacherous terrain during the 12th century.

The Breckebeiner is a colorful, festive affair, with costumes encouraged and food donated by Vail Resort’s EpicPromise branch. Teams and individuals collect donations based on how many kilometers they ski, with the goal to reach a full 60. They don’t have to do all 60 kilometers (about 37.2 miles) in one day, however. Since last Saturday, March 14, participants have started counting their miles at Summit’s Nordic centers. Many choose to complete the 60K in small increments leading up to the Breckebeiner.

Day-of participation, however, is perfectly fine as well. A minimum $25 donation per adult ($10 per child) is all it takes to jump in this Saturday. Rental equipment will be available at a discounted rate. Spectators will have plenty to cheer about as the skiers loop comes close to the lodge.

Both classic and skate-style skiers can take to the intermediate groomed terrain. Loops of 6 and 3 kilometers will be marked, as well as a 3-kilometer snowshoe course. For very young participants, there will be a 1-kilometer snowshoe course featuring a treasure hunt at noon.

“I like the enthusiasm of the participants, and it’s for such a good cause,” said Mary Johnson, who has been an employee of the Breckenridge Nordic Center for 15 years. “I like the fact that people will dress up; they get into the spirit of things.”

Local doctor Craig Louis Perrinjaquet, known around town as Doc PJ, is a frequent participant and fundraiser for the Breckebeiner. The atmosphere is “kind of whatever you want it to be. You can get in your zone and just crank out 60K, or you can have hot cocoa and donuts and dress up and party with your friends,” he said. “It’s good for your health — exercise and fun and good mojo.”

Organizers hope the event will match, if not exceed, last year’s fundraising amount.

“Last year we broke the record of $30,000 so it would be awesome to hit that again,” said BOEC development director Marci Sloan.

Whether coming as an individual or a team, fully costumed in wacky wig and cape or just normal clothes, whether local or just visiting, everyone is encouraged to attend the event.

“As people are skiing around there’s always entertainment and it’s very festive,” Therese Dayton said. “It’s really something to look forward to.”

Summit Daily News, March 16, 2015

The Daytons make Nordic skiing a family affair for Summit County

Posted Thursday, March 26th, 2015 by BOEC

Attempting a family portrait of the Daytons is a task that requires balance, timing and luck.

When it comes to the Breckenridge and Frisco Nordic centers — operated by Gene and Therese Dayton — every family member has a job. When any of the Daytons walk through the doorway of either lodge, they are immediately on duty, ready to pick up the telephone, answer a question or grab a pair of skis as needed. From grandfather to grandson, it’s second nature. And they love it.

“I heard a statistic once — if you like going to your job two days a week, you have a great job,” said Therese Dayton with a smile. “I don’t think there’s been two days I didn’t want to go to work in 30 years.”

On a particularly busy Saturday at the Breckenridge Nordic Center, Therese works behind the food counter, while eldest son Matthew stands at the front desk. Matthew’s father, Gene, chats with guests in the large sitting area, while youngest son Joshua gets his camera ready for the portrait.

“Excuse me, sir,” a guest says as Gene walks past. “Do you work here?”

“He’s always been into the fleeing sports, running, biking.”Therese Dayton,describing husband Gene

“Yes, I do,” he replies with a smile.

The guest puts in a request for a pair of rental skis, never realizing that the man he’s speaking to started the Nordic center back in 1979. Gene doesn’t mind. He’s at ease chatting with friends of 25 years or with complete strangers, his blue eyes twinkling as he offers a wide smile.

Like the eye of a hurricane, everyone comes together in one moment — Gene and Therese sitting between their sons Matthew and Joshua in front of the large stone fireplace at the center of the new lodge.

A few clicks and they’re off again, always something to do. Those visiting on a weekend might catch a glimpse of the third generation, Matthew’s children, lending a hand as well. The centers represent a strong family business that started nearly 50 years ago when Gene decided to make Summit County his home.


Gene was born in the small town of DeKalb in northern Illinois, the second of four brothers. His parents were both teachers and athletes — his mother taught physical education and ballet at the university level and his father was an athletics director and taught English — which they passed on to Gene and his brothers. His youthful athletic pursuits included skating and, especially, swimming.

Skiing wasn’t really part of the family repertoire until eldest son Chuck introduced it to them during a visit home from his freshman year at Dartmouth College in 1957.

“I was fascinated by it,” Gene recalled.

Swimming, however, was the sport that stuck, and Gene attended Florida State University on a swimming scholarship. There, his fascination with snowsports, particularly skiing, seeped into his studies, and he later completed an economic study on Alpine skiing in Summit County for his master’s thesis.

Gene got his first glimpse of Summit County when he drove through the area on a road trip with several buddies while returning from California in 1961. They had surfboards strapped to the top of their car. His first experience on Alpine skis took him down the slopes at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

That first taste wasn’t enough, and he returned on another road trip in 1965. By 1967, he’d bought some land “for a song” in Silverthorne and officially became a Summit resident. One year later he relocated to Breckenridge, and he’s been there ever since.

He remembers back to when Breckenridge Main Street was just a dirt road — “the neighbor’s dog used to sleep right where the stoplight was in the summertime, there was very little traffic” — and lift tickets at Breckenridge cost $4.75.


Right from the beginning, Gene started leading cross-country skiing tours, as well as maintaining his own very active lifestyle.

“He’s always been into the fleeing sports, running, biking,” said Therese, unlike his brothers, who preferred contact sports such as wrestling, football and rugby.

Therese also recalled one summer when Gene, then in Breckenridge, had to go to a meeting at Copper. Instead of getting in the car, he packed a backpack with his professional clothes and ran over the mountain, occasionally post-holing through the snowpack, to his meeting on the other side.

Though now at age 71 Gene has slowed down a bit, he’s still incredibly active. He swims almost every day and can still be seen out on the cross-country trails from time to time.

It was that love of the outdoors that drove Gene to advocate for Nordic skiing in Summit County. He wanted not only to share those experiences with locals and tourists, but also to provide the opportunity to people with disabilities.

So Gene paired up with two Summit legends — ski pioneer Olav Pedersen, who paved the way for blind skiers in the U.S. and founded the Ski for Light program, and Aris Sophocles, a well-known local doctor — to provide services for people with disabilities wanting to get out on the snow.

From this partnership came the nonprofit Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, now entering its 38th year.


In 1974, the town of Breckenridge granted the BOEC use of the F&D placer at the base of Peak 9. An old mining cabin also was donated, and though it no longer serves as the main building, it still resides on BOEC land.

Originally, Gene’s idea was for the program to cater to at-risk kids. But with knowledge of the need in the disabled community, that mission expanded.

“One of the most successful programs we had was taking a group of kids at risk, teaching them how to ski and then teaching them how to teach, and then teaching them how to teach blind people,” Gene recalled. “To me that was one of the best programs.”

Now the BOEC’s programs go year-round, with summertime components as well. Locals and others from all around the country come to take part. Every December, the BOEC hosts The Hartford Ski Spectacular, an event that draws nearly 2,000 people with disabilities, including wounded veterans, to the Breckenridge ski slopes.

Gene considers the BOEC to be one of his greatest successes.

“It was a lifetime dream that is being realized and it’s growing and it shows tremendous promise in terms of solving problems for people who really need help,” he said. He’s enjoyed watching the organization’s success over the years.


With the BOEC founded and the Nordic centers going strong, things were swimming along for the Daytons.

In 1984, Gene experienced both joy and tragedy. That August, his third child, Josh, was born. That October, however, his wife, Nancy, passed away.

“The whole town of Breckenridge got behind our family,” he recalled. “It was overwhelming support for us.” But it was still a difficult time.

“Faith has always been a big part of our family,” Josh said.

It was faith Gene turned to, and he spoke to his pastor and prayed for “someone special” to enter his life.

Four months later, Therese arrived at the BOEC from Virginia, her home state, where she was certified in therapeutics. From their first meeting, the two just clicked.

“That was an amazing time,” Gene said.

“He had prayed about what he wanted in a wife. He didn’t want just a mother for the kids, he didn’t want just somebody, he wanted someone who would share in business, who would share in sport and who would love the kids,” Therese said. “The kids were very easy to love.”

The three children — Ami, Matthew and Josh — grew up with cross-country skiing, spending their time out on the snow and in the centers, learning the family business.

“My dad instilled a deep love for the mountains in us at an early age, and a deep love for the woods and cross-country skiing,” said Josh.

All three competed in athletics during high school. Ami excelled in track and gymnastics, while Josh and Matthew distinguished themselves on the ski team. Josh competed in Nordic skiing for Western State Colorado University for three years. Matthew had Olympic dreams.

“I started ski jumping at the ripe old age of 19,” he said with a laugh during an earlier interview. “It’s fairly uncommon to start that old. Most kids are starting 7, 8, 9 years old.”

Matthew persisted and made the U.S. team for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they finished fourth.

“There were so many people from this community that came and watched,” he said. “I still have people that come up to me and tell me that they were there watching, which is really neat.”

Gene remembers it all with pride.

“Therese and I got Olympic fever ourselves,” he recalled.

Matthew now lives in Summit County with his wife, Janelle, and their three young children — Lucas, 9, Eden, 7, and Anders, 3.


For nearly as long as the Nordic centers have been open, they’ve had several generations of Daytons working in them.

Josh has memories of answering the phone, which, after hours, would transfer to their home number. Among his favorite memories, however, is being out on the Nordic trails.

“I would ski up to people that looked like they were struggling and offer them a free lesson,” he said.

Now, Matthew’s children are learning the same ropes. Lucas will stand behind the counter and help serve hot chocolate, for instance, or help put away equipment. And they’ve all been on skis from the earliest possible moment.

“It’s wonderful to see it passed on, to see the joy on their faces,” said Gene, of watching his grandchildren enjoy the sport and life at the Nordic centers.

It’s more than just Daytons, however. There are employees who have worked at the center for decades, Therese said. “Anybody that works with us is our friends and family.”

By growing up in the centers and bringing the work home with them, the Daytons blur the line between work life and home life, but they like it best that way.

“If we talk about something that’s business related, it’s not really talking about work, because it really isn’t work for us, because we do love what we do,” Therese said.

There’s no plan to retire any time soon — “Gene and I do not have retirement in our vocabulary,” she said — and there’s certainly no plan to ever move away from Summit.

“There isn’t any country, any state, any county, any town and any street we’d rather live on, than the street that we live on — French Street,” said Therese. “We don’t know what else we’d rather be doing.”

Gene agreed.

“In the entire world, there’s not a better place for us,” he said. “In Breckenridge, French Street overlooking the mountain is absolutely home.”

Summit Daily News, March 20, 2015


Hartford Ski Spectacular–27th Year of Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding

Posted Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 by BOEC

SUMMIT DAILY NEWS–Jeff Inouye has been involved in 17 of the last 26 years of The Hartford Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, which runs this week. As the adaptive ski program assistant director for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center — a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with disabilities and special needs — Inouye matches participants with event instructors.

Now in its 27th year, the five-day-long ski spectacular event, held at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, celebrates adaptive snow sports. People with disabilities, including military personnel, are offered lessons in adaptive skiing and snowboarding, as well as the opportunity to try out activities like curling and sled hockey. The event also features lessons on racing for the more experienced and competitive participants. Ski and snowboard instructors from all over the country come to attend classes on teaching adaptive lessons. The Hartford Ski Spectacular is one of the nation’s premier training camps for emerging adaptive ski and snowboard racers, with some of the nation’s top adaptive instructors.

In the midst of it all, Inouye is the guy that knows everyone. He looks over the applications of every participant ahead of time, and knows nearly all of the instructors, even many of those that are coming from out of state. When the participants arrive, Inouye is often the one to introduce them to their instructors.

“I get to know the participants pretty well, as well as all of the instructors,” Inouye said.

“But a lot of it too is just an eye-opening experience of ‘Life is not going to be the same,’ but then there are moments where yeah, it just clicks and they’re smiling and they are like ‘Wow, I never thought I would be able to do this,’ all the light bulbs go on and they’re having fun.”
Terrin Frey, ski instructor, BOEC


More than 800 participants will make their way to Summit County to take to the slopes, many for the first time. People with disabilities such as amputated limbs will try out all kinds of adaptive equipment that will allow them to experience the thrill of winter sports. Ages range from youth to adult, with groups of disabled veterans also participating.

“It’s the one time of the year that the adaptive community gets to meet and share ideas and share new products and basically get together and just talk to each other,” Inouye said.

Adaptive equipment is everywhere during the five-day event. The companies that make things like the monoski — also known as a sit-ski, which consists of a seat mounted to a metal frame with ski-like appendages — attend to offer demos and present new products.

“This industry is always changing and new equipment is always being built and created,” Inouye said. “So this is where all the manufacturers will come and show off their new equipment.

The Hartford Ski Spectacular has three components — learn to ski, learn to race and continuing education for adaptive instructors. Most of the participants who are attending have never skied or snowboarded before.

“I think especially with winter sports, there’s a huge stigma with people who didn’t grow up on skis or near the snow that it’s really hard to get into,” said Daniel Hathorn, sports manager for Team Semper Fi, part of the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans. “I tell everybody that this event is priceless. If you come with an open mind, … you will realize it’s not as hard as you think it is.”

Hathorn has been part of the event for five years, and was also a wounded warrior participant. It was through the ski spectacular that he became involved in the world championships of adaptive snowsports, so he has a particular soft spot for the event.

“Essentially, it’s don’t knock it before you try it,” he said of his sales pitch to others.

The event is meant to be a jumping off point for the participants’ continued experience with snowsports.

“From there hopefully the idea is that when they go back home to wherever they are, that they can look up their local program or local chapter of disabled sports and get involved in doing the same type of thing,” Inouye said. “That’s the idea, that we get them introduced to everything here and give them the resources that when they get home, to hopefully continue the rehab process.”


Those who have attended the ski spectacular for several years, or who have more experience, may take advantage of the learn-to-race portion of the event. Those instructors include several Paralympic team coaches, who are always keeping an eye out for athletes with potential.

This is the aspect that Hathorn recommends for many veterans.

“Most of these guys are injured service members and they all want to compete,” he said, “and the best way (is) to get out and test their skills and potentially get noticed.”

Whether they’re there as a first-time skier or snowboarder, a newly disabled individual or a competitive athlete ready to learn the techniques of adaptive racing, attending the event has an impact on all the participants.

Hathorn has seen other veterans who, at the beginning of the week, keep to themselves and aren’t very talkative. “But at the end of the week, they’ve learned new things, they’re talking to people, they’re laughing with instructors, they’re walking up to people they’ve never met before.”

Terrin Frey has been a ski instructor for with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) for four years, and loves participating in The Hartford Ski Spectacular event. Her favorite part is giving her students the opportunity to try something new, something they might not even think they can do.

“Some people, if they have a new prosthetic or something like that, if their life has been completely changed by the war or an injury, it’s a struggle for sure,” she said of the first lesson. “But a lot of these people that are in the military, that’s what they like, you know. But a lot of it too is just an eye-opening experience of ‘Life is not going to be the same,’ but then there are moments where yeah, it just clicks and they’re smiling and they are like ‘Wow, I never thought I would be able to do this,’ all the light bulbs go on and they’re having fun. … There’s definitely the struggle, but then there’s the overcoming of the struggle.”

She’s had a number of memorable moments connected with the event, many having to do with meeting the participants and hearing their stories. One veteran she remembered from two years ago, who had lost both of his legs to an IED explosion that June.

“He was just super ecstatic about skiing and he decided to monoski because he was pretty new to his prosthetics, and yeah, that was the ah-ha moment of him going down the run,” she said. “It’s totally that double fist pump moment of ‘I can do this’ and ‘I can ski,’ and the smile on your face and the freedom that it gives you. It was pretty awesome.”

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