By Richard Rhinehart
Valparaiso, Indiana, July 2, 2013 – Army veteran Kristine White loves to snowboard. Although she lives in the hilly, glaciated terrain of northern Indiana, she loves snowboarding 1,000 miles away in the rugged Rocky Mountains at Colorado’s Aspen and Telluride resorts.
Serving as grant writer and sponsorship coordinator for the nonprofit Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness, a community-based organization providing free holistic integrative health and wellness to injured and ill veterans of America’s military, White dreams of moving west someday to be closer to the Rocky Mountains and the winter resorts. In doing so, she hopes “to be continuing to make huge differences in the lives of those who are still serving our country and transitioning out into civilian life.”
As a veteran, White understands the complex issues and concerns that affect veterans who are leaving active service. Medically discharged from the Army in 2006 owing to a foot injury sustained during basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, White has set a goal to participate in the No Barriers Summit in Telluride this August 8-11.
“The Summit is about changing lives with the No Barriers mindset in an incredible outdoor setting,” says David Shurna, executive director of the Fort Collins, Colorado-based nonprofit. “It offers the chance to shift the lens through which you see and navigate life so you can harness your adversities and live a life of purpose.”
“The No Barriers Summit inspires a sense of adventure, innovation, community – and a belief in the power of the human spirit,” says blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, a former World T.E.A.M. Sports board member who founded the Summit in 2005.
Held every two years, the Summit brings together persons with disabilities, innovators and scientists, who share creativity in adaptive technology. In 2011, nearly 500 participants attended the Winter Park, Colorado Summit.
An active participant in three Face of America rides from World T.E.A.M. Sports as well as an avid cyclist and triathlete, White believes the innovation and optimism of a Summit will help her. Living with PTSD and SCI from an automobile accident, she says the Summit will “equip me with the necessary knowledge and activities to provide those who think recreation is not possible due to injury or illness, the ability to know that anything is possible.”
Despite her enthusiasm in attending the Summit, the associated expenses in attending the event in southwestern Colorado is daunting. “I was blessed to be supplied with a scholarship for the No Barriers Summit,” White reports. “I am still short in the total that I will need to get there.” Needing from $1,500 to $2,000 in sponsorship support, White has created a site through the online fundraiser Indiegogo. Crowd-sourced fundraising could provide her with the donations she needs to purchase a plane ticket and for lodging in Telluride during the four day event. “Whatever I have left over will go to Telluride Adaptive Sports, Semper Fidelis Health, and Disabled Sports USA.”
Following her discharge from the Army, White returned home disappointed and guilty about not being able to serve her country. Resuming her education, she finds comfort in helping others in need. For those veterans who are beginning civilian life owing to a disability, White is encouraging. “Just get out there and try,” she says. “There is always a way to adapt something if a traditional way isn’t working.”
White is looking forward to future Face of America rides with World T.E.A.M. Sports after riding 102 of 110 miles this April. She also has interest in participating in the organization’s annual Adventure TEAM Challenge near Grand Junction. “My heart’s in Colorado,” she said.
Richard Rhinehart serves as Director of Communications for World T.E.A.M. Sports.