Disabled vets stay active in mountains
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Jeff Snover and Scott Winkler lowered themselves from their wheelchairs and into the world’s largest hot springs pool Wednesday. The day before, the disabled Army veterans were skiing with adaptive equipment.”You feel free, because you’ve been in chairs all day,” Snover said.The pair are two of around 365 participants staying in Snowmass for this week’s National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are skiing. On the other days, alternate activities are available like soaking in the hot springs, sled hockey, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, scuba diving, rock climbing and other activities.
“It’s beautiful up here,” Winkler said.Organizers say the purpose is to develop winter sports skills and take part in a variety of adaptive workshops, demonstrating that having a physical or visual disability need not be an obstacle to an active, rewarding life.Winkler and Snover both have spinal cord injuries. Winkler, who was in the military for eight years, fell off the back of a truck in Iraq while loading ammo and Snover was injured by a falling tree while taking a break at home in Tennessee during his almost 19 years of service.
They may have been taking it easy at the hot springs Wednesday, but that doesn’t seem like the norm.”We’re both going for the Paralympics,” Snover said.Winkler is a discus thrower and Snover said he’s competed internationally in table tennis. The Paralympics is a “parallel” event to the Olympics for people with disabilities to compete in the same sports.
“Just because you’re disabled, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world,” Winkler said. “There’s so much out there to do.”