BOEC in the News

Hundreds Gather for 9th Annual Breckebeiner

Posted Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Bruce

Bryce Evans–Summit Daily News
BRECKENRIDGE — Gene Dayton described the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center as the “little school that serves the world.”

With more than 2,000 participants — from 17 foreign countries and 40 states — utilizing the many BOEC programs just this year, that certainly can’t be disputed. Neither can the impact that Dayton and the rest of the local Nordic ski community has on helping the BOEC’s cause. More than 200 people gathered at the Breckenridge Nordic Center on Saturday for the ninth annual Breckebeiner 60k Ski-A-Thon and Snowshoe Bash, a fundraiser for the BOEC’s Tuition Assistance Fund.

“It’s a wonderful time for people to get together and enjoy the sport and come together around a cause that truly celebrates life,” said Dayton, founder of the event, operator of the Nordic center and one of the co-founders of the BOEC.

The mission of the foundation is to offer “life-changing outdoor activities for a diverse population of people” with mental and physical disabilities, serious illnesses, injured veterans, youth at risk and other special needs. And Saturday, people spun laps around the Nordic center’s trail system to help raise funds. participants took up sponsorship or pledged money on a per-kilometer basis. The final total is expected to be more than $20,000.

“Year number nine, and we’re hoping that we’ll double what’s been done in any previous years,” Dayton said.

They’re off to a good start. Dayton said this year’s event has an “open track” format, meaning people can do their skiing anytime during the week, up until April 1. Although, many opted to take part in Saturday’s festivities. With polka-style music — led by local accordion icon Helmut Fricker — as the backdrop, participants lapped around the center’s clubhouse, where dozens were gathered. Grills sizzled and the bonfires were blaring, and at the completion of each lap, participants were greeted to loud applause and some cow bells. People were dressed in costumes, some even unrecognizable, but the care for the cause was apparent.

“Many of our clients, because they’re disabled, don’t have very much money, so they wouldn’t be able to go on these experiences without the opportunities we provide,” BOEC executive director Bruce Fitch said.

The vast majority of people won’t make the 60k. Dayton said he expects 20 or so to do it. Many, though, are helping to raise substantial funds. Dayton said Mike Atkinson, pastor of Agape Outpost, has put up “thousands of dollars” this week for the BOEC.

“He pumped it up from the pulpit,” Dayton said with a laugh.

The event started nine years ago as Dayton’s 60th birthday party, when he asked friends and people in the community to ski with him to raise money for the BOEC. Dayton said it still gives him pride to see what the people of Breckenridge are willing to do for a noble cause.

“It’s a little town with a big heart, and it’s a town that serves the world,” Dayton said.

Sam Adams helps the BOEC!

Posted Thursday, February 17th, 2011 by Bruce

For the months of February and March, Rutkey Distributing and Samuel Adams will donate a portion of sales proceeds to the BOEC from any Sam Adams purchased  at the following locations:

Liquor Stores

  • City Liquors- Breckenridge
  • Locals Liquors- Silverthorne
  • Skee Vue Liquors- Breckenridge
  • Breckenridge Summit Liquors- Breckenridge
  • Frisco Liquors- Frisco
  • Antlers Liquors- Frisco
  • Leadville Liquors- Leadville
  • Dillon Ridge Liquors- Dillon


  • The Dredge
  • Copper Top Bar and Grill
  • The Quandary
  • Kenosha Steak House
  • Tuscato Italian Grill- Frisco

Many thanks to Rutkey Distributing, Samuel Adams and all these participating businesses!

Make a Wish Foundation at the BOEC

Posted Tuesday, November 30th, 2010 by tfc-control

Check out this story of a young girl, Sarah Holm from Wisconsin, coming to the BOEC Adaptive Ski Program through the Make a Wish Foundation:

The North Face Awards Grant to BOEC

Posted Monday, November 1st, 2010 by tfc-control

The North Face has awarded a $2500 grant to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center to help children and families explore the outdoors. The BOEC was selected from hundreds of applications because of our work in the outdoors with children with disabilities and special needs. The grant is part of the inaugural commitment of $250,000 from The North Face Explore Fund, enabling more than 100 programs that will affect an estimated 85,000 young people.

“We are pleased to be a part of this national program and to provide greater opportunities for children with special needs to be inspired by the outdoors,” said Bruce Fitch, Executive Director of the BOEC.

The BOEC was established in 1976 to expand the potential of people with disabilities and special needs through outdoor adventure and education. Since it’s founding, the BOEC has provided opportunities for individuals and families to experience and appreciate the outdoors and adventure activities. Many of these activities require adaptive equipment and instruction to enable these participants to fully enjoy and safely enjoy activities that otherwise would be closed to them. In addition, BOEC has been able to advance their mission exponentially with the support of several important partner organizations such as The Children’s Hospital of Denver, the Mountain Mentors program in Summit County and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. These organizations have allowed the BOEC to integrate their outdoor programs with ongoing therapy and outreach.

“Our goal is to enable more people to get outside and explore their world in ways that are meaningful to them,” said Steve Rendle, President of The North Face. “We’re very proud to launch the Explore Fund and support BOEC and the other impressive organizations that are making outdoor exploration possible, and a priority, in communities across the country.”

BOEC will launch this winter a number of skiing camps and next summer a number of camping and rafting camps that will focus on children with special needs and their families to immerse in life-changing outdoor experiences. To learn more about all of the Explore Fund grantees and to keep up on their progress visit 

Passing of a Great Friend of the BOEC–Richard Griffith

Posted Friday, April 2nd, 2010 by tfc-control

We are sad to report the passing of Richard Griffith, a great friend and supporter of the BOEC.  Richard, 68, died on March 25, 2010 at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida after a brief illness.

Richard’s philanthropy is evident in every place he lived with his highest accomplishment being with the BOEC.  It was Richard’s generosity that created The Griffith Lodge. The lodge has been the central base and campus for the BOEC’s programs, serving hundreds of special needs children and adults over the years.  The Griffith Lodge has been the cornerstone of the BOEC’s success in recent years, allowing us to expand programs and provide high quality housing in addition to the adaptive adventure activities we are known for.  The lodge was renamed in 2005 as The Scott Griffith Lodge in memory of his son who was a student of the BOEC.

Richard was retired as Vice President of the Florida Division of Sysco Foods. He and his family traveled all over the world during his working years and after retirement. He was a former resident of Fayetteville, NC; Banner Elk, NC and Breckenridge, CO.  Richard is survived by his wife, Ann West Griffith of Windermere; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Karen Griffith of Ocoee; daughter and son-in-law, Robin and Kevin Laird of Brookhaven, MS; and his step-mother, Donna L. Griffith of Boca Raton, FL.  He is also survived by his beloved Chihuahua, Nacho.

Prior to his illness, Richard and Ann had planned a visit to the BOEC this summer and see again the continuing impacts of their gift.  Richard Griffith will be sorely missed by all of us at the BOEC, and greatly honored for how he transformed our school.

BOEC and US Paralympics create Paralympic Sport Breckenridge

Posted Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 by tfc-control

U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) have partnered to create Paralympic Sport – Breckenridge.

Paralympic Sport – Breckenridge is a community-based sports club developed to involve youth and adults with physical and visual disabilities in sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level.  All programs and activities will be based in Breckenridge and run by the BOEC.

“U.S. Paralympics is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals with physical and visual disabilities to be physically active in their own communities.  Participation in physical activity enhances not only self-esteem and peer relationships, but also results in greater achievement, better overall health and higher quality of life.”  Mike Mushett, U.S. Paralympics Director of Community Programs.

With 21 million physically disabled Americans, including thousands of military personnel who’ve been severely injured while on active duty, this is an important community need.

The BOEC was established in Breckenridge, Colorado, in 1976 as a non-profit tax-exempt educational organization to provide outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and to train the instructors who work with special populations. Ultimately, the BOEC strives to integrate disability with ability, providing outdoor experiences to all.  We welcome people of all abilities from around the world to spectacular natural classrooms in the Rocky Mountains and beyond.

“The BOEC is proud to expand our services to people with disabilities and special needs by providing this opportunity to learn more about and participate in the Paralympic movement.  This is yet another way for our participants to expand their potential and push beyond perceived limitations.  Our initial focus will be on alpine and nordic skiing but will expand into other adventure sports in the future.”  Bruce Fitch, Executive Director of the BOEC

U.S. Paralympics is committed to working with community organizations across the United States to create 250 Paralympic Sport Clubs by 2012.

For more information about the BOEC and Paralympic Sport – Breckenridge, please contact Marci Sloan at (970) 453-6422 or

For more information about U.S. Paralympics, please contact Susan Katz, (719) 866-2068 or

About U.S. Paralympics:  U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is dedicated to becoming the world leader in the Paralympic sports movement and to promoting excellence in the lives of persons with physical disabilities. Visit the U.S. Paralympics website at www.usparalympics.orgAbout BOEC:  For more than 30-years, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) has provided life changing outdoor learning experiences to people of all abilities, with a focus on those with special needs. The BOEC provides a sense of freedom to those who are routinely excluded from activity due to a disability or special need. Whether skiing in the Adaptive Ski and Ride Program at Breckenridge or Keystone Ski Resorts, paddling the West’s great rivers, or mastering the Ropes Course, the BOEC inspires people of all abilities to discover new places, learn new skills and rekindle their spirit in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Monoski camp: A time to be free

Posted Sunday, November 1st, 2009 by tfc-control

special to the Summit Daily
Summit County, Colorado

There’s a pilgrimage every February to Breckenridge. Every February, Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center sponsors Monoski Camp. Those of us who can no longer ski standing on two legs, but instead do so sitting over one ski, gather together in Breckenridge for a ski vacation.

Many of us return time and time again, year after year, eager to gather together once more to hit the slopes. We renew our friendships every February on the mountain and in Griffith Lodge. Some of us are new and are quickly welcomed into the fold. At last they have found us.

The week of monoski camp is the best week of my year. It is renewing, refreshing, reinvigorating, and recharging. No matter how rough the previous year has been, monoski camp makes me whole again.

How can the four days of monoski camp, with a bunch of folks who use wheelchairs and crutches, be so important to me?

Because disability disappears. It becomes a non-issue.

We are there to ski and to laugh, to fly down the mountain and to enjoy each others company.

The wheelchairs and the crutches that follow us wherever we go fade into the background. They don’t matter anymore.

We are not limited by our equipment; we are empowered by it.

We become normal. We become average. Within our circle, we are just ourselves. No one is staring at our chairs and crutches making sympathetic expressions of pity. No one is expecting us to be superheroes, overcoming all of our many obstacles for the betterment of mankind.

We are no longer stereotypes, examples, cases, objects for study, “special,” an inspiration, or opportunities for advocacy.

We are just us. We are the mom of a 3-year-old, the soccer dad, the businessman, the brand-new teacher, the guy with the funny accent from Scotland, the pool player, the Southerner, the great omelette maker, the joke teller, the photographer, the writer, the traveler, the last guy up in the morning, and the first guy to bed at night.

We are skiers. We gather on the mountain to fly as fast as we can down the steepest slope, to perfect our carved turns, to improve our skills to the next level, to learn, and to master the Ballet Hill. We push ourselves a little bit harder, a little bit farther, always seeking to get a little bit better and a little bit faster. We accept the challenge and take a risk. For what is life without a few risks?

We are storytellers. We laugh at ourselves as we tell each other about the time we missed the lip, the edge, the crack, and went flying out of our wheelchairs much to the horror of the unsuspecting able-bodied folks. We tell stories about the times we’ve gone down escalators in our chairs with confused security guards providing chase. We extol the many fine virtues of duct tape when used to adapt our monoskis and fix our glasses after a face plant.

We kid each other, harass each other, and cheer for each other.

Late at night our voices and our laughter echo through Griffith Lodge, but the morning brings a great rush to eat breakfast and get to the slope for fresh tracks.

Thank you, my friends, for sharing the mountain and good times. See you next year.

And thank you to Jeff and Gene, Quintin, Sarah, Matt, all the instructors, all the interns, and all the volunteers. You give us far more than you will ever realize.

Sandy Lahmann, a previous Frisco resident now temporarily lost on the Front Range, can be e-mailed at

Adaptive Ski Lessons at Copper Mountain

Posted Sunday, October 11th, 2009 by Bruce

Copper logoThe Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center provides alpine skiing and snowboarding lessons to people with disabilities and other special needs at Copper Mountain Resort.   Lessons are conducted on a personalized, one-on-one basis, and include all instruction, on-hill guiding and support, specialized equipment and lift ticket.  All disciplines of adaptive skiing are provided, including four-track, visually impaired, three-track, mono-skiing and bi-skiing.

2017-18 Rates Adaptive Ski & Ride Photo

Full Day:   $250
($225 for reservation 14+ days in advance)
Time: 9am – 3:30pm (1 hour off for lunch)
Half Day:   $185
($165 with 14-day advanced reservation)
Time: 9:30am – 12pm OR 1pm – 3:30pm

Prices above are per person. Customized lessons for groups are available upon request.  Payment in full is required to confirm reservations.

To Make a Reservation

Please call (970) 453-5633 or 1-800-383-BOEC to make a reservation. It is recommended that reservations be made as soon as possible, as we have limited capacity and our lesson days tend to fill quickly.

Please also feel free to contact us via email at

Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC)
Since 1976, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center has been providing empowering outdoor experiences to people of all abilities. The Center offers adaptive ski programs and adaptive outdoor education camps at a campus in Breckenridge and wilderness programs throughout Summit County and the region.  Activities are available year round and include skiing, snowboarding, ropes course, challenge activities, rock climbing, river rafting, canoeing and many others, all adapted to be accessible to all abilities.

Breckebeiner More Than Skiing

Posted Sunday, April 12th, 2009 by tfc-control

By Bryce Evans
Summit Daily News
Summit County, Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – Ron Roe had only skied a few laps around the trails of the Breckenridge Nordic Center by noon on Saturday, but the 62-year-old Denver resident already seemed more than satisfied with his day.

After all, he was doing something that he loved – Nordic skiing – and was doing it for a cause close to his heart.

Saturday was the seventh annual Breckebeiner 60k Nordic Ski-a-thon and Snowshoe Bash, an all-in-good-fun sort of race where participants attempt to ski 60 kilometers around the Nordic center to raise money for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) scholarship fund.

In the theme of the BOEC, which helps to empower people with disabilities through sports and outdoor activities, Roe understands the importance that athletics has on people’s lives. He’s a third-degree black belt and instructor in Taekwondo, not to mention an avid downhill and cross country skier.

Oh, and he’s blind.

“Anything to help raise money for the center,” Roe gave as his reason for skiing in the Breckebeiner. “No other reason than that. They’ve helped me in the past, so I’d like to help however I can do it.”

And that was the sentiment shared by most Saturday in Breck as a couple hundred people came out to show their support of the BOEC. Each participant either took up sponsorship or pledged their own money for the race, giving either a lump sum or a per-kilometer amount.
One big party The idea for the race came from BOEC co-founder Gene Dayton, who – after his wife threw him a 150-person surprise party for his 50th birthday – decided that if that many people were gathering at once, it might as well be for a better cause than himself.

“I told my wife that when I turn 60, I want to do something different and have more meaning to the day,” Dayton said. “So, I asked people to come ski with me 60 kilometers and pledge money to the scholarship fund for the BOEC.”

Though the Breckebeiner no longer celebrates Dayton’s birthday, it still resembles one big party. With barbecues blazing and the music of accordian-player Helmut Fricker – whom Dayton refers to as the “icon of the event” – filling the air, skiers and snowshoers made their loops past the Nordic center clubhouse.

Looking around Saturday at what his event has become, Dayton couldn’t help but feel proud. Although, it wasn’t entirely because of the lively atmosphere.

“It was only a hope that it could get this big,” Dayton said. “We don’t really worry about how big it is, exactly, but rather how it helps the need.”
Filling a void The “need” is what drove Dayton and a handful of others to start the BOEC in 1976.

“We needed a program to just put lives back together and empower people,” Dayton said.

Aris Sophocles, M.D. is in his fourth term as chairman of the board of directors for the BOEC and has been with the organization since it started. As Sophocles put it, the BOEC has three main purposes. The first is to operate adapted ski programs at both Breckenridge and Keystone. Secondly, the BOEC runs a Wilderness program which helps make warm-weather, outdoor activities, such as camping, river trips and various classes, accessible to people with disabilities. Finally and most importantly, Sophocles said, the BOEC trains interns to implement BOEC-like programs across the country.

“Right from the beginning, we realized that if we didn’t train people to do this work, our impact would only be local,” Sophocles said. “If we could figure out how to train them well, we could have a broader impact.”

It worked – BOEC-trained interns are now doing work in 39 states and 11 countries, according to Dayton.

“The need is so far reaching,” Dayton added. “It’s through the country and the whole world that people need this.”
Pushing the limit Most skiers attempted to take on the designated 60k, Saturday, but a couple others attempted a much harder feet.

Locals Greg Ruckman and Justin Easter set out to complete 150 kilometers of skiing Saturday.

In last year’s Breckebeiner, Easter skied 120k, which helped to raise nearly $10,000, Dayton said. So, this year, the Summit Nordic Club head coach decided to up the ante, and Ruckman decided to join in.

The skiers set out at 12:01 a.m., but after 108k, Easter had to call it quits.

“It was OK; I was hoping to go farther,” an obviously exhausted Easter said while lounging on a sofa in the Nordic center clubhouse.

A former Olympic and world champion rower, Ruckman completed the distance in 11 hours, 27 minutes and 15 seconds, according to Dayton.

Easter, 27, was glad that “one of them was able to do it,” but more pleased for what it meant for the BOEC. Easter, who moved to Summit County after racing professionally for a number of years in Montana, said that he believes deeply in what the BOEC stands for.

“I believe in skiing so much,” he said. “It’s something I’ve made my life out of – racing and coaching. It’s something that can make a difference for people.”

For Roe, who participates “quite often” in the BOEC programs, the impact the center has had on him has been invaluable, and he was more than happy to return the favor by skiing in the Breckebeiner.

“They have helped so many people through the years and really made a difference,” Roe said of the BOEC. “This is the least that I can do.”

Good Times at the Seventh Annual Breckebeiner

Posted Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 by tfc-control

Breckebeiner 2009The Seventh Annual Breckebeiner 60 km Ski-a-thon was the place to be on March 28th.  Over 200 skiers and guests enjoyed great ski conditions and raised over $20,000 for the BOEC!   Music was again provided by Helmut Fricker, Those Austrian Guys and Doc PJ’s sound system.  Top skiers were Greg Ruckman at 150km and Justin Easter at 120km.  Many others skied or snowshoed 3, 12, 30, 60 or more km solo or as part of a team.  It was all great fun and the palm trees and decorations reminded all that summer is near.

Therese DaytonMany thanks to Gene and Therese Dayton for hosting and working so hard to bring this event about; to volunteers Jim Anderson, Brian and Joanne Hartwig, Elizabeth Hill, Mel Parveti, Bill McClaude, Hampton Gewin and Jim Heil;  to staff Marci Sloan, Bob Bond, Melissa Kuwahara, Jaime Benthin, Erin Baird and Kristen Marron; and thanks to the Butterhorn Bakery, Sire Speedy Printing, The Summit Daily and Hans Peak Cafe for their support of the event.  Most of all, thanks to all of you who came to ski, to party and to support the work of the BOEC!

Mark your calendars for next year, the last Saturday in March.

Gene and Staff               Greg Ruckman      

Interns-best costumes!  BOEC Board Team

 Helmut Fricker    The Mayor’s Team

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