By Scott Broom, WUSA9 TVJanuary 28, 2009
MERCERSBURG, Pa. (WUSA) -- Iraq and Afghanistan veterans recovering from serious wounds including amputations are taking to ski slopes in increasing numbers thanks to "adaptive" sports programs nationwide.
Now, a new corps of volunteers are being trained to teach adaptive skiing at the Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg PA, which is host to the Two Top Mountain Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, one of the nation's newest snowsports programs for people with disabilities. The rapidly growing program is serving wounded warriors in the nearby Baltimore/Washington region, as well as civilian athletes with a wide range of disabilities.
Iraq veteran, author and amputee Maj. David Rozelle (U.S. Army) is joining with fellow disabled skiers to help teach volunteer instructors critical skills needed to assist disabled skiers as they learn snowsports.
"After returning from Iraq, I learned snowsports are an amazing equalizer for people with disabilities like mine," Maj. Rozelle says. "Gravity is what makes you go, which means people with disabilities are often just as agile on snow as their able-bodied friends. For veterans normalizing their lives after severe wounds, snowsports can be a remarkably empowering experience."
Maj. Rozelle is the first amputee in to return on active duty to a combat zone. His memoir Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude chronicled his inspiring achievement.
The Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation is directed by Bill Dietrich, who has been a ski instructor at the Whitetail Resort since 1992. "We aim for this foundation to be a resource for all disabled people in our region," Dietrich says. "However, Whitetail's proximity to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the large number of veterans in our area gives the foundation a natural focus on wounded warriors."
Volunteers learn about the specialized equipment and techniques needed to assist adaptive skiers to safely learn the basics of balancing, turning, stopping and using chairlifts, regardless of their injury or disability.
Video at: http://www.wusa9.com/rss/local_article.aspx'storyid=80815
Written by Scott Broom