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Golfers swinging for life

The Vail Veterans Program is hosting 11 Wounded Warriors for its second annual summer golf program. Daniel Gasca, of El Paso, Texas, left, watches Tim Johannsen of Elizabeth chip at Red Sky Ranch Golf Club during last year’s inaugural session. Johannsen is back for this year’s event. Gasca and Johannsen were both injured by IEDs while serving in Iraq.
Kristin Anderson/Vail Daily file photo |

About the Vail Veterans Program

The Vail Veterans Program provides rehabilitative sports programs to United States military personnel who have been severely injured while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and to the troops that support those efforts.

The program is open to wounded warriors and their families, building confidence and hope through skiing, snowboarding and outdoor summer recreational activities.

The Vail Veterans Program is a volunteer organization and hosts wounded warriors and their families free of charge.

Send donations or contact them at: P.O. Box 6473, Vail, Colorado 81658; 970-476-4906; email: vailveteransprogram@gmail.com

EAGLE-VAIL — Swinging a golf club correctly is difficult enough, but if you’ve lost your legs to war, playing golf with your son becomes a life goal.

Tim Johannsen is one of 11 Wounded Warriors in town for the Vail Veterans Program summer golf program. He wants to play golf with his son, and you can bet the ranch he will.

“Because I have lost my legs I can’t run or jump, so I won’t be able to play sports like football or basketball with him,” Johannsen said. “But I can swing a club and will be able to play 18 holes with him when he’s old enough. And at 2 1/2 years old, he’s already taking after his old man.”



Johannsen said golf is therapy, both physically and mentally, improving his balance and core strength. But to play’s the thing.

“Although therapy is a great reason for me to play golf, no reason is more important than being able to play golf with my son,” he said.



Johannsen was part of last year’s inaugural Vail Veterans Program golf event.

“Golf has become part of physical rehabilitation in our military hospitals to improve mental and physical health. Golf’s benefits include stress relief as well as it improves coordination and strength. Golf is also something they can do now and forever,” said Cheryl Jensen, founder and executive director of the Vail Veterans Program.

The 11 Wounded Warriors and a military hospital therapist will play at Red Sky Ranch in Wolcott and the Eagle-Vail golf club for the Healing Heroes golf tournament.



“We’re honored to host these wounded military service members and appreciate all of the community support we’ve received,” said Ben Welsh, Eagle-Vail golf club’s director of golf.

The Vail Veterans Program is for wounded United States military personnel who have been severely injured while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Jensen launched the program in 2004.

Since then, it has touched the lives of more than 1,000 injured military personnel and their families, through skiing, snowboarding and outdoor summer recreational activities. Everything is free for the participants, thanks to donors, volunteers and the Vail community, Jensen said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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