Wounded vets return to Vail’s slopes | VailDaily.com

Wounded vets return to Vail’s slopes

Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily file photoRetired Sgt. Chris Fesmire,a double amputee Iraq veteran, enjoyed the sun, snow and freedom of skiing Vail Friday as part of the Vail Veteran's Program last winter

VAIL – Wounded veterans will return to ski in Vail this winter for the seventh consecutive Vail Veterans Program, which begins Thursday.

Thirteen veterans and their families have been invited to participate in the first of two free winter programs. The second program is from March 3 to March 7.

The three-day program is designed to help veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq become active again. They also get to spend time with their spouses, children and other family members in a fun and welcoming environment.

“The Vail Veterans Program gave us the opportunity to recapture a part of our lives that we thought we’d never get back,” said Ryan Voltin, a Vail Veterans Program participant.

Voltin was injured in May 2007 and suffered third-degree burns on his face, arms and hands and lost his left leg below the knee in a friendly fire incident while training in Jordan.

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“The energy and the enthusiasm that we felt on that mountain had been missing from our lives for nearly two years,” he said. “But we found it in Vail and now we can bring it home to our children and show them that nothing can be taken from them that they aren’t willing to give up.”

Veterans will get three days of private adaptive ski or snowboard lessons through the Vail Snowsports School. Families will also get three days of ski and snowboard lessons and the entire group will go tubing and ski biking at Vail’s Adventure Ridge on Saturday night.

Many of the instructors also have military backgrounds and spend much of their time participating in events, organizations and programs elsewhere that support disabled individuals, allowing for an easy connection with the veterans.

“The commitment of Vail Resorts and the community to the Vail Veterans Program is instrumental in changing the lives of these injured hero’s and revitalizing relationships with their loved ones,” said Cheryl Jensen, Vail Veterans Program founder and executive director. “

We’ve been able to share the program with more than 250 wounded warriors in the past years and have created life-long bonds between the veterans, instructors, donors and other volunteers,” she said.

The Vail Veterans Program is made possible by generous individual donors as well as organizations such as Vail Resorts, the U.S. Paralympic Military Program, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort Spa and Continental Airlines.

For more information about the Vail Veterans Program, visit http://www.vailveteransprogram.com.

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