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Disabled Veterans Sports Clinic Opens in Colorado

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Compliments of: American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. – An Iraq war veteran now serving as a senior Department of Veterans Affairs official opened the world’s largest and longest-running disabled sports event here last night, and he challenged almost 400 veterans to reach for new heights through teamwork and mental and physical toughness.

“We all know the importance of sports and the incredible results that they can play in not only healing our minds and bodies, but our spirits as well,” Tommy Sowers, VA assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, told participants at opening ceremonies for the 27th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

“Sports are more than just activity and competition,” he said. “They improve us, they teach us, they challenge us and make us stronger — and they do it in ways that we cannot imagine.”

Sowers urged the participants, including many that were wounded during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, to push their limits as they tackle events designed to help them discover new abilities.

“It is you and the mountain,” he said. “Good luck. Have a wonderful week — with determination, with toughness, and with joy.”

The clinic, co-sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans, is open to U.S. military veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions.

During the six-day program, veterans learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and are introduced to rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, sled hockey and other sports and activities.

But Larry Polzin, the DAV national commander, emphasized that the clinic is no vacation.

“You came here with a mission. Your job is to learn something new [and] to take that and make the most of it,” Polzin told the veterans. “When you leave here, it is going to be a totally different feeling for you.”

Those new discoveries will remain with the participants and help in their rehabilitation long after they return to their communities, Sower told American Forces Press Service.

“These sorts of events are absolutely critical, not just for the one week that they are here, but for the 51 other weeks [of the year] as well,” he said. “We see the benefits going forward — not just for the veterans themselves, but also for their caregivers and families.”

As the veterans cheer on and inspire each other during the winter sports clinic, Sowers said they’re also setting an example for others.

He noted, for example, that disabled athletes around the world benefit from adaptive equipment pioneered at the winter sports clinic, and the techniques taught here.

Sowers offered high praise to the DAV, the Snowmass Village and Aspen communities, and the hundreds of volunteers and sponsors who come together to make the clinic a success.

“It is not an example, it is THE example of the right type of public-private-local partnership,” he said.

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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