ARLINGTON, Va. – When you live in Colorado, nothing brings people together like hitting the slopes. And that's why the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) is making skiing and other snow events a big part of its winter activities — including organizing a trip to a major skiing event in December, and creating their own event that will take place this February and March.
The SRU trip to an adaptive sports event known as the Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado in early December proved to be a big hit with Soldiers — such a big hit, in fact, it inspired them to plan their first unit-led trip starting in February as well as a nonprofit-sponsored winter event on March 26, said Marc Cattapan, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the SRU.
Cattapan and a colleague will lead snowshoeing and fat tire snow biking — which is like mountain biking, but using large tires adapted for the snow — at Mueller State Park about an hour's drive from the SRU. They plan to do two events in February and two events in March.
"We're going to caravan up and lead two groups," Cattapan said, noting that one group would do snowshoeing and the other would do fat tire snow biking. "That's what we'll do as a unit. That's new — we've never done that before. It's completely unit-led."
The Ski Spectacular trip really whetted the Soldiers' appetite for more events like this. They were able to participate in all sorts of events, from stand-up snowboarding to bucket skiing to sled hockey to curling.
Spc. Lindsay Skavlem participated in mono skiing at the Ski Spectacular. Mono skiing is similar to skiing but it involves sitting on a double-wide ski. Skavlem chose the event because she has nerve damage in her right foot that prevents her from doing regular skiing.
"It was really good," she said. "It was tough and was a learning curve because I'm used to standing up. But [the SRU] has been really good about making sure our program is so well-rounded that we can get out and still do things that don't cause us more injury and pain while still getting us out and being active."
Cadre Staff Sgt. Michael Stone, who helped with the Ski Spectacular event, said when the Soldiers were heading out to Breckenridge, the ride was pretty quiet as the group didn't really know each other. But that changed by the end of the trip.
"We took 10 Soldiers with us," Stone said. "I remember the drive out there was quiet. But the first day or two, we started bonding more. [A]fter the end of the first day, everyone that was quiet was pretty much open and talking about their experiences.”
Day by day, the Soldiers grew even closer. Pretty soon, they were swapping stories and just hanging out together.
The three-hour drive home wasn't quiet at all.
"There wasn't a second that people weren't talking and laughing," Stone said.
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Visit us at www.arcp.army.mil