While this has nothing to do with any Ironman training, I can't help but share what a great week I had this past week. Last week was the 10th anniversary of the Vail Veterans Program, a powerful ski event that gets newly injured vets learning how to ski again.
When I was injured in 2004, I remember someone coming into my hospital room and asking if I was interested in skiing. The first thought that crossed my mind was, 'I have one leg, how on earth am I going to ski'. I found myself a few months later on the ski slopes of Breckenridge. Hesitant and wobbly at first but by the end of the week, flying down the top on the mountain, the wind in my hair, feeling as free as I have ever been. That trip changed my life and I went back thinking that I could do anything. A few months later I found myself out in Vail, attending my first Vail Veterans Program.
|Cheryl and I|
The week is one of my favorites of the year. With dinners, and bowling, and tubing, and The George and ending the week at the Vail firehouse where the Vail firefighters host our group for a night filled with lasagna and sliding down their fire pole. Ah, the fire pole. But the best part of the week is the camaraderie that's seen. And the looks of joy you see when they make it down a run for the first time. This trip truly changes lives.
I've been lucky enough to have been asked back every year as one of the mentor veterans, talking to these new guys, encouraging them that life does go on and to believe in themselves. Over the years I have met lifelong friends that I get to see every year and make new ones that I know I will see again. The triple amputee that learned to snowboard, the couple who got together after his life changing injury and dreams of what their life will be, a former MMA fighter, a West Point football player and recent amputee with his fiancee whose love for each other is apparent for all to see, and the list goes one.
So, if you want some motivation, check out their website at www.vailveteransprogram.com and help this program continue. And next time you are in Vail in March, look up at those slopes and give a thumbs up as these men and woman learn to live again.