Paralympians descend on Vail |

Paralympians descend on Vail

U.S. Paralympic bronze medalist Laurie Stephens, center, shares a laugh with other racers during Adaptive Spirit’s 19th annual fundraiser in Vail. Nearly the entire 2014 U.S. Paralympic team was in attendance to support the event.
Anthony Thornton | |

VAIL — The biggest event for Paralympians since the Paralympics wrapped up in town on Saturday with the Adaptive Spirit’s 19th annual fundraiser.

Pulling together nearly the entire Paralympic team from 2014, as well as roughly 1,000 telecom executives, vendors and partners at the Vail Cascade and Spa, the event culminated on Saturday with what 2014 super-G and downhill bronze medalist Laurie Stephens described as a “GS-ie kind of slalom” at Golden Peak.

“It’s a great event, all the people here really support us, and it’s just awesome,” Stephens said. “After a long season, it’s so much fun to come here.”

Stephens, like most of the Paralympians in Vail on Saturday, came in to Colorado from Washington D.C., where the met the President and participated in the inaugural Best of U.S. Olympic awards, set to air on NBCSN Monday at 5 p.m. Stephens was nominated for the Best Female Paralympian award.

“We got in at 3:30 in the morning, two nights ago,” said Alana Nichols, a 6-time Paralympic medalist and gold medal winner in both the summer and winter Paralympics. “It’s a ton of fun.”

$521K FROM ’13 EVENT

In the 18 years leading up to this year’s event, the Vail fundraiser has raised approximately $10 million for various U.S. Paralympic teams. This past year’s total donations were $521,844.

“This fundraiser is really the life blood of our organization,” Nichols said. “We couldn’t ski race without this fundraiser. Literally.”

Local Paralympian Ralph Green said while it’s hard not to compete on the course, the event is really about having fun.

“It’s at the end of the season, so everyone’s just here to have a good time,” Green said.

Alan Munro with Charter Communications said friendly locals like Green are one of the things his company looks forward to every year.

“All the locals I’ve interacted with, they clearly love where they live, and they treat the visitors as a privilege to serve them,” Munro said. “I’ve never seen that anywhere else I’ve been, and I’ve lived in a lot of different places.”

Adaptive Spirit spokesperson Colette Carey said the nonprofit trade association is especially excited about next year’s 20th anniversary event.

“It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year,” she said.

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