BOEC in the News

Archive for BOEC Adaptive Skiing/Boarding

Semper Fi at Keystone Adaptive Center

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Antonio Olivero, Summit Daily News, 1/12/2018
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and U.S. para athlete Peter Park makes turns on his monoski at Keystone Resort this week as part of the Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard clinic for veterans, put on in conjunction with the Keystone Adaptive Center. (All photos by Brian McPherson / Special to The Daily)

 

For Marine Corps veteran Manny Jimenez, an above-the-elbow amputee, one sentence sums up why he traveled across the country from his home in Glastonbury, Connecticut, to learn how to ski here in Summit County this week.

“A lot of veterans bounce off veterans in their time of need,” Jimenez said.

Like many young veterans nationwide, Jimenez has had difficulties adjusting to life after his tours of duty overseas. His time in service included his second deployment, to the southern Afghan agricultural town of Marjah, where he was injured by an improvised explosive device on Aug. 1, 2010.

It was at his bedside table where Jimenez and his family met his case manager through the Semper Fi Fund, a nonprofit that provides both immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to injured service members like him. As an organization, the Semper Fi Fund says their focus is helping service members realize there is life post-trauma.

“Which I believe played a huge aspect in my recovery to give me that strong mindset,” Jimenez said. “You need a strong support group, especially in the beginning after the traumatic event.

“You grow up all your life with all of your limbs,” he added, “and one day you wake up and you can’t remember a lot of things, and your brain is rattled and you realize you are missing an arm. You need a strong structure from the beginning. And the Semper Fi Fund case manager has always helped me, to keep me on target.”

Jimenez credits the Semper Fi Fund with instilling a fire inside of him, one that led him to the fund’s sports program, or Team Semper Fi. Just a few months after his injury, he was cleared to run in November 2010, and by January 2011 he was running his first half marathons through the program.

Whether it’s Team Semper Fi marathons, triathlons or other events, like this week’s ski and snowboard clinic at Keystone Resort, Jimenez believes these programs are the best way for vets to meet friends who can relate to trying to tackle post-trauma life.

“You can pick up the phone, send text messages to the buddies you met at camp to help you through that moment,” Jimenez said. “And that’s what it means to fight the invisible wounds, half the time. It’s someone who has been there too.”

Semper Fi Fund athletes and family members pose for a photo with Keystone Adaptive Center instructors at Keystone Resort this week.

Jimenez was one of 30 service members and their family members to take part in this week’s three-day Semper Fi Fund Ski and Snowboard Clinic. The national not-for-profit teamed-up with the Keystone Adaptive Center and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center for the second straight year to help outfit and educate veterans who have injuries ranging from those who are wheelchair-bound, to those dealing with cognitive function disorders from a traumatic brain injury, to those dealing with the wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For this week’s session at Keystone, Marine Corps veteran and Semper Fi Fund spokesman Brian McPherson, 30, said more than 50 service members from across the country expressed interest in the Keystone clinic.

This week at the clinic, Haley Keller, the program manager at the Keystone Adaptive Center, said 30 instructors and volunteers — including some local veterans — gave their time to help these service members skiers and snowboarders of varying skill levels improve their skills.

“The big part of the Semper Fi Fund event is the lessons are done in a group format,” Keller said, “to really promote the building of relationships and camaraderie with the service members, and perhaps maybe the family or friends they bring as well.”

The Semper Fi Fund shuttled vets like Jimenez from Denver International Airport on Sunday, and beginning on Monday, the Keystone Adaptive Center took special note of each veterans’ injury to outfit them properly to ski for the day.

Then on Tuesday, the veterans for the first time conducted a community service project at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, including cleaning up downed trees, removing snow and ice outside the facility and winterizing some of the facility’s equipment.

“Since they were giving back to us, we said, ‘Well how can we kind of give back to the Outdoor Education Center?’ Through that they needed some kayaks that needed to be winterized, covered up, moved around,” McPherson said. “It’s new to what we are doing with all of our sports event in the 2018 year.”

Then Wednesday’s final day of skiing was a free ride day, though the clinic provided above-knee amputee Kyle Cook with the opportunity to also work with Paralympic coaches.

As for future fun for others who took part, McPherson himself just relocated to Colorado this past year to ski more often. After his second deployment to Iraq concluded in 2012, the Ohio-native went to a Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard camp that same year.

A never-ever snowboarder, McPherson fell in love with the sport as it became a primary variable that helped him to regain his balance and to live life despite his PTSD from a traumatic brain injury and orthopedic issues stemming from two shoulder surgeries.

“It allowed me to grow, post-trauma,” he said.

Leg amputee and veteran Kyle Cook snowboards at Keystone Resort this week as part of the Semper Fi Fund ski and snowboard clinic for veterans, put on in conjunction with the Keystone Adaptive Center.

 

 

 

 

 

With what might be the season’s biggest snow storm yet set to slam into Summit County in time for weekend powder, these days you may find McPherson splitboard snowboarding in the backcountry. His new favorite hobby is to join veteran friends snowboarding at Loveland Pass, and enjoying the hospitality of Summit County locals along the way.

“It forces you to be more comfortable in the uncomfortable,” McPherson said. “Backcountry, it gave me what I found in the military, which was a consistent challenge, and the ability to read terrain.

“And Loveland Pass, that view,” he added. “You can see all the different resorts from that location up there. And in the event that you just want to take a few runs early morning, the people in Summit County are so amazing, they’ll pick you up on Loveland Pass and take you back to the top.”

BOEC and US Paralympics create Paralympic Sport Breckenridge

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

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 marci@boec.org.

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

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.

Adaptive Ski Lessons at Copper Mountain

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

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 skiprog@boec.org.

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.


Vets Carve Up Keystone with Special Equipment

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

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 rallen@summitdaily.com.

A Day in the Life of a BOEC Intern

Monday, December 29th, 2008

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 www.boec.org.

Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.

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