This is the 22nd annual Hartford Ski Spectacular, hosted by Disabled Sports USA. The Hartford is one of the main contributors, even in these tough financial times.
It is the nation's largest winter sports festival of this type, with more than 700 participants this year. Many of the wounded warriors lost limbs, or suffered other major injuries, in battes in Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, or other wars. Other participants have disabilities, and take part in a number of adaptive sports programs. Many are training for upcoming Parolympics events in Vancouver.
It is fitting this years Event began on December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. These are brave, patriotic folks, who have suffered greatly, but never give up.
My husband Charles Sneiderman and I have been honored to attend 3 of these Hartford events, as well as numerous other Wounded Warrior Activities around the nation. We were pleased to see so many old friends. Most of us are staying in the huge Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center, which hosts the events. It is well run, the views are great, and you can ski in and ski out to the slopes. The ski rental facilities are part of the building, which makes it much easier. The warriors have the use of a vast amount of special equipment - sit skis and other gear for those with lost limbs. Most of their equipment is stored on a big truck, provided by the Veterans Administration.
It was bitter cold when we arrived in Breckenridge, with temperatures far below zero. But we managed a few runs each day. The slopes were hard packed and well groomed. The participants were out early, receiving lessons in the bitter cold. Many of the instructors also suffered from disabilities, which make them more sensitive and effective as teachers. It often takes several dedicated people to help the sportspeople into their equipment, and assist them on the chair lifts. But, once they are set, they fly down that mountain! Heath Calhoun races to qualify for US Paralympic team