Sports clinic brings disabled vets to Hot Springs Pool

Savannah Nelson
Special to the Post Independent
Veteran at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort the first week of April. The Glenwood visit was part of the annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic that takes place in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Savannah Nelson

As part of the annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village recently, participants were able to enjoy soaking time at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort after fun-packed days on the slopes.

After a long week of action on the slopes, these vets — from all branches of service — were able to relax, recover and reconnect with their peers at the Hot Springs.

“I look forward to this trip all year,” retired Marine Corpsman John Papi said. “It’s a reunion with my best friends in hot water. What could be better?”

The Department of Veterans Affairs puts on this clinic each spring, hosted in Snowmass Village. From March 31 to April 5, participants took part in skiing, sled hockey, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, fly fishing, curling, scuba diving, archery and soaking in the world’s largest hot springs pool.

For many veterans, the clinic is an opportunity to travel and get out of their comfort zones.

Maria Garcia and Alice Pursley, for example, met each other 30 years ago in the Army on their first and third tours. They’ve remained best friends and have decided to add this trip as another adventure together.

“As first-timers that live on the beach, it’s been so neat to try new things and play in the snow,” Garcia said. “The best part, though, is connecting with other veterans from around the country who have seen the world.”

The mission of the clinic, according to its website, is to “give disabled veterans an opportunity to develop winter sports skills and participate in challenging, adaptive workshops; in doing so, participants can see past physical or visual disabilities as obstacles to living active and rewarding lives.”

After pushing themselves and trying new things, the hope is that these veterans push toward improvements in physical wellbeing, mental health, self-esteem and community readjustment and re-entry.

This rings true for many clinic-goers. After becoming an amputee, Papi wanted to give back to his community and help others that are going through similar experiences.

“When I lost my leg,” Papi said, “I had a pretty easy time and transition. It’s not like that for everyone. I come here and use my knowledge and experience to help others who might be struggling.”

After pausing to splash his Airforce buddy, Papi continued, “I signed up for the military for a higher purpose, and programs like this one help to give back.”

Kevin Flohr, director of operations at Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, said the resort is proud to be a part of the program and host the veterans.

“It’s our honor to have these special guests and support the Clinic and visiting veterans,” he said. “After their dedicated service to our country, supporting veterans injured in the line of duty is the least we can do.”

Savannah Nelson is communications coordinator for Resort Trends, Inc.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.