BOEC in the News

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

Vets Carve Up Keystone with Special Equipment

Posted Thursday, March 5th, 2009 by tfc-control

By Robert Allen
Summit Daily News
Keystone, CO Colorado,

KEYSTONE – As U.S. Army veteran Scott Winkler boarded Keystone Resort’s Montezuma Express lift on Saturday, the chair stopped and a bell rang.

“It wasn’t me,” he yelled, grinning.

At 237 pounds, the disabled veteran is a hulking monoskier. But the professional athlete was already in position for take-off by the time the cautious lift operator halted the chair.

Winkler and 16 recently wounded military veterans were wrapping up a four-day adaptive ski and ride camp at the resort as part of Snofest. The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and Adaptive Adventures partnered to provide lessons to the veterans and their guests. Winkler, 36, lost the use of his legs after a spinal-cord injury in Tikrit, Iraq – Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The American soldier was serving in the first advance of Operation Iraqi Freedom in May 2003.

“It was a hot zone,” Winkler said. “We had to get in, drop off the ammo and get out of there as fast as we could – so we were in a hurry.”

The metal strap for securing the ammunition was caught on his boot as he lifted a 65-pound box of fragmented grenade-launcher rounds.

“If the box hit the ground, everybody would have been in trouble,” he said, adding that it likely would have exploded.

He fell backward “and when I hit the ground with the ammo on my chest, my lower body was twisted all the way around,” Winkler said. “It happened quick, and didn’t hurt at first.”

Scott Barker, with Adaptive Adventures, helps get the soldiers making turns on the slopes. He said veterans, in particular, are positive and “a pleasure to teach.”

“They’re young and they have good core strength,” he said. “They don’t have much of a morale issue – as opposed to a drunk driver victim or a victim of a disease.

“They signed up to go to combat. They knew something could happen, they’re aware of that.”

Barker said getting on the chairlift is often tougher than riding for the disabled soldiers.

Matt Feeney, also of Adaptive Adventures, is a monoskier who’s been instructing others for 18 years.

“I’ve seen people pick it up in two or three days,” he said of monoskiing. “I’ve seen other people that it takes years and years.”

The Snofest is in its 19th consecutive year. It’s offered by regional military installations to all active military and their families. The participants enjoy a weekend of skiing, and other off-mountain events, and more than 4,000 attended last year, according to a BOEC press release.  This is the second year for the adaptive ski and ride component. It provides lodging, transportation, meals, equipment and more for the disabled veterans. Funding for the adaptive camp comes mostly through the Wounded Warriors Disabled Sports Project, the Scotty McFadden Foundation and Boeing.

Saturday was Winkler’s 10th on the slopes since his injury. When he’s not competing in world-class events, the veteran from Augusta, Ga., is vice chair of a nonprofit dedicated to activities for people with disabilities. Champions Made From Adversity brings people who have disabilities – and their families – water skiing, hand cycling and even scuba diving.  Following his injury, the Winkler said he didn’t do much. He spent some time fishing before getting into wheelchair basketball. Then he went to a military sports camp in Colorado Springs “and it just kicked off from there.”  He went on to become the first Iraqi War veteran to join the U.S. Paralympic Team.  Winkler also competes in shot put and discus, and has broken both American and world records. Last year he competed in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, ranking fifth of 17 in his field events.

“Just because you’re disabled, it’s not the end of the world,” he said, adding that he’s preparing for the 2012 Paralympics in London.

The soldier-turned-athlete, who has even appeared on a box of Cheerios, uses his story to encourage others.

“Everything that I do – like the medals that I win, the records that I break – that’s not for me. That’s for the U.S.,” he said. “If I can inspire somebody out there to try something new, that’s all I care about.”

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

A Day in the Life of a BOEC Intern

Posted Monday, December 29th, 2008 by tfc-control

By Caitlin Row
summit daily news
summit county, co colorado,

BRECKENRIDGE — When Englishman Dan Hallam left school eight years ago at 16, he fell straight into sailing instruction near his home. At 18, he went abroad to teach sailing and wind-surfing in Greece, Egypt and the Caribbean.

“School was never that much fun for me,” Hallam said. “I’m dyslexic so it was always quite hard to sit in a classroom and take in what they were saying. … I just found that the school environment didn’t suit the way I could learn.”

According to Hallam, sports kept him on track and helped him through school.

Because of his own struggles with dyslexia, he sees athletics as a method to help people overcome disabilities.

And when he lost his finger in a sailing accident, he decided to pursue outdoor education as a career.

Hallam, who’s originally from the London-area, is now a 24-year-old Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center intern.

He’s recently worked in the UK as a multi-activity instructor, teaching climbing, cycling and mountain biking, as well as other activities. But, when he found the BOEC intern program online, he jumped at the opportunity to work with special-needs clients.

“It’s something that’s always interested me,” Hallam said. “I’ve taught sailing and wind-surfing. … I wanted to come up with different ways to teach and to get everyone involved — including people with disabilities — in outdoor education and outdoor sports. Sports are a great way to get people working together. One of the things we’ve learned so far is how to overcome different situations. It will help me with any future job that I may have. Sort of being able to adapt.”

Hallam loves the work and hopes to be a full-time instructor with BOEC next year.
The BOEC relies on its interns for day-to-day aid. Sometimes interns live with a client(s) for up to a week, helping with everything from making breakfast,
getting them ready to go for the day, transportation, ski instruction, dinner, tidying up and evening entertainment.

“You stay the night and start again the next day,” he said of his experiences acting as a caretaker and an instructor for clients with disabilities.

On other days, interns can also be found working in the ski office in all capacities.

“The job is long hours, but it is so rewarding,” he said. “It’s physically demanding, but you feel like you’ve helped someone realize their potential.”

As an intern, Hallam lives in a house shared by 11 other interns. The BOEC provides food and shelter, but the internship is unpaid.

“It can be pretty tiring because people are in and out,” he said of the shared living space. “It is nice though to live with so many people because there’s always someone to talk to, someone to go mess about with.”

None of the interns have extra jobs. They work 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so savings is required to make the position work. Days off vary each week depending on need.

“It’s worth it, though,” Hallam said. “Just the training that we receive makes it worth it.”

BOEC interns spent the month of November training to be adaptive-ski instructors. Hallam has worked with both tethering and monoskiing.

“It was pretty intense,” he said of his training.

Now all 12 interns are full-fledged teachers who are available daily to help with lessons.

And all the interns — two Australians, nine Americans and Hallam — seem to want to follow the outdoor-education path, he said.

“So far, I have helped with people from London and from all over the country,” he said. “ … It keeps you on your toes, which is nice. Everyone gets such a different experience. Everyone takes away their own things. … It’s an eye-opening experience to the work, disabilities and what they can do.”

Hallam said the seasonal internship program is helpful because it teaches necessary problem-solving skills and versatility in the workforce.

“You get to help people do something that they never thought they could do,” he said. “You may be able to change their lives.”

The BOEC, a nonprofit educational organization, was established in Breckenridge in 1976 to provide outdoor experiences for people with disabilities and to train the instructors who work with special populations.

The BOEC strives to integrate disability with ability, providing outdoor experiences for everyone. The nonprofit hosts people of all abilities from around the world to experience spectacular natural classrooms in the Rocky Mountains.

For more information about the internship program, visit

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

Joe at the Paralympics

Posted Monday, September 8th, 2008 by tfc-control

Our own Joe Kusumoto, Manager of the Keystone Adaptive Center, is in Beijing this week and next, taking photos of the Paralympics for DSUSA.  You can check out Joe’s blog at  and get a taste of this exciting event. 

Adaptive Cycling Photos

Posted Monday, July 7th, 2008 by Volunteer BOEC

Thanks AIG and DSUSA!Mountain bikers ready to rip!The whole crew on top of Vail PassGlen and Jeff going strongQuintin tests the one-offBeth, JoAnne and Skye

3rd Annual Adaptive Cycling Festival

Posted Monday, July 7th, 2008 by Volunteer BOEC

The 3rd Annual Adaptive Cycling Festival was met with sunny skies and numerous miles of paved and unpaved biking trails waiting to be ridden.  The handcyclists worked hard cycling from Keystone to Montezuma, Breckenridge to Copper Mountain, Keystone to Frisco and a grand finale of cruising down Vail Pass.  The mountain bikers experienced a variety of terrain including Keystone Gulch Road, Boreas Pass Road and Bakers Tank single track. 

The BOEC’s Adaptive Cycling Festival is a family oriented, social event for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders to experience the beauty of Summit County through the challenge and excitement of cycling.  A special thanks goes to the numerous volunteers who assisted with the weekend in a variety of areas.   

” . . . thank you and all the staff and volunteers that came out to make the weekend a truly wonderful experience for myself and my family .  . .  I know my family had a genuinely happy time riding the trails and byways throughout the area.” – Rich Cunningham

“Thanks a bunch for letting me try mountain biking.  I had a blast!”  – Matt Hendrick

Richard and Meredith on Boreas PassMatt Getting Ready to Ride

JCMH a Great success

Posted Monday, June 16th, 2008 by BOEC

Just last week a group from Jefferson County for Mental Health came up to Breck for 3 days of paddling and hanging around the ropes course. 

 The first day of the course there was a sudden change of plans, as we were going to paddle around Lake Dillon (Dillon Resevoir).  At arrival there was TONS of snow falling from the sky, even some accumulation.  Even more importantly, there was oodles of wind coming at our backs and out to sea so to speak.  We as a group collectively decided to change our plans to paddling up at the F & D Placer site.   This proved to be a VERY good decision as everyone got a chance to paddle the crafts that they wanted, as well as had plenty of time to stick out some lines into the pond.  After a quick lunch we had the opportunity to climb on the wall and have a short hike. 

 The next day proved to be very exciting on the Upper Colorado where Erin and Laura joined the staff to make it down the river.  I had the feeling that this day was the highlight of the day, in fact we had one person decide to jump in just past the hotsprings (which were flooded) to “cool off” for a bit.

The last day the very tired group woke to tackle on the ropes course.  This day was particularly impressive as we had several folks brave their fear of heights and one in particular even put his fears aside to try his hand at the zip line.  It was amazing to watch.

As with any course, there are tons of stories that may never be told.  I wish that there were time to tell them all.  If you have never had the experience of a BOEC course I would urge you to give it a try…   you may learn things inside you that you didn’t know were there.  I always do, every course.

I would like like to extend my deepest gratitude to Jim, Geoff, and Jessica….you folks are amazing and truely helped make JCMH a huge success….

Now for me, it’s off tommorrow to the first Camp Little Tree

Until next time,

Ryan Latham

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