BY RICHARD RHINEHART
Snowbird Resort, Utah, February 23, 2012: For a wounded warrior retiring from America’s armed services, transition to civilian life is a series of challenges. Leaving behind their military support network, the veterans return to a nation that is appreciative of their efforts, but perhaps not fully understanding of the complex physical and emotional issues they face daily.
This Feb. 27-March 1, 15 disabled veterans will gather at Utah’s Snowbird Resort for the Soldiers to the Summit at Snowbird event that will include skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. From non-profit World T.E.A.M. Sports, the event is the follow-up to the organization’s October, 2010 expedition to Nepal’s Himalayan Mountains. Through working together as a team with experienced mountaineers, 11 wounded warriors successfully climbed 20,075-foot Lobuche East. This month’s event will provide an opportunity for disabled veterans to experience winter sports, to connect with other veterans, and to enjoy life.
The Snowbird event includes veterans like Marine William Beard of Vicksburg, Miss., who was severely injured in March 2008 when his Humvee was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The resulting explosion resulted in numerous injuries, including the loss of both index fingers. Amanda Brewer, a 21 year veteran from Cabot, Ark., was injured in the June, 1996 terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Despite numerous injuries, she remained in the Air Force for another 14 years, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ed “Koz” Kozlowski from Land O Lakes, Fla. toured the world during his 24 years in the Air Force. Currently working with a defense contractor, Kozlowski suffers from combat-related PTSD. Charles Register of Santa Ana, Calif., joined the Navy in 1963. Stationed on various naval vessels, he served during the war in Vietnam. He reports that his disabilities “stem from Agent Orange exposure while on the base at DaNang.” He has had a kidney transplant, is legally blind and is a below the knee amputee.
Sponsored by Snowbird Resort, the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird, Wasatch Adaptive Sports and American Airlines, the Soldiers to the Summit at Snowbird event will provide these American heroes with an opportunity to learn and experience winter sporting activities. For some of the veterans, it will be their first time on snow. For all participants, their days at Snowbird Resort will allow them to create new, positive relationships with other veterans through teamwork and cooperation.
“At American Airlines, supporting U.S. service members, veterans, and their families is an extremely important, long-term commitment,” said Captain Jim Palmersheim, Managing Director – Veterans Initiatives for American Airlines. “We are honored to provide air transportation through our partnership with Air Compassion for Veterans, an organization that our employees support through our fuel savings initiatives. On behalf of everyone at American and American Eagle, we are proud to contribute to this event, which will have a positive impact on the lives of our nation’s heroes.”
For more than 20 years, World T.E.A.M. Sports has used athletics to challenge disabled and non-disabled men, women and children to accomplish goals they never thought possible. At all our events – whether mountain climbing, biking, white water rafting or many other sports – four things always happen: (1) Disabled participants build self confidence and physical fitness; (2) The disabled provide a role model for other disabled citizens, encouraging them to take up athletic activities; (3) The disabled provide a moving inspiration to other participants and to spectators when they see disabled individuals can reach goals and meet challenges beyond anyone’s imagination; (4) The disabled and non-disabled participants become a team, working together to overcome those challenges. Among the successful events is the annual Face of America bicycle ride in Maryland and this summer’s Sea to Shining Sea cross-country ride. World T.E.A.M. Sports changes lives.