The Courage Center of Duluth kicked off its 10th annual Great Lakes Mono–Ski and Race Camp today at Spirit Mountain.
The 3–day event provides a unique opportunity for veterans with disabilities to shine on the slopes.
Amputee veterans have traveled from all over the Midwest for a chance to become independent skiers and readjust to life after combat.
After years of chronic pain that resulted in the amputation of his left leg, Marine Core veteran Chris Dunn was forced to put down his skis.
19 years later, with the help of the Courage Center, he was finally able to pick them back up.
"I just you know...it feels like redemption."
One soft spoken vet stated, "It's increased my confidence even in my day to day life." All the vets can agree that a sense of empowerment is given back to them on the slopes.
"It's given me a renewed sense of number one confidence, and achievement."
Participation in the camp has given many veterans a renewed look on life.
"In the past winters you just wait for winter to be over, the last two years you can't wait for the snow," says Norm Coone of Courage Center adaptive ski team.
The volunteers and veterans have bonded during the course of the Race Camp.
"The people you get to work with are just awesome, seriously, it's always an inspiration. It's just fun to be out," says Katie Oullette, a volunteer of 6 years.
"What Courage Center does for folks with disabilities is just amazing. They've amazed me so much that I volunteer for them as well," Coone added.
The event pairs novice skiers with Olympic–caliber skiers for optimum training results. Double amputee skiers are given the latest adaptive equipment courtesy of Courage Center.
"I am what they consider a two track skier. I have a specialty prosthetic that's made, this is an outer carbon fiber knee brace but underneath here and molded to it is a prosthetic socket pile on and a prosthetic foot," says Dunn.
The event will conclude with Race Day on Friday February 15th.
Courage Center Duluth is a non– profit rehabilitation and resource center.
It has been providing adapted sports and recreation programs to people with disabilities since 1979.
Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware