Wounded Warriors means guys in wheelchairs, right? And their trip to a ski resort involves sit skis?
Those guys did attend the STARS and Stripes Heroes Camp last weekend put on by Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Steamboat Ski Area. There were soldiers whose amazing stories of survival were told first by what wasn’t there — an arm, legs or, in the case of attendee Mark Litynski, all three of those limbs. Read More…
A note from Mark Litynski, the Marine that lost both legs and his lower left arm in combat 3 years ago, following the January 25-28 STARS Ski Camp at Steamboat Springs. Mark is now a pretty good snowboarder.
Dear STARS Program Donors, Volunteers, and Staff
I want to thank you for the hospitality and generosity you have shown myself as well as the rest of the veterans and our families during our trip to Steamboat Ski Resort. Both my friend Scott, who attended the event as my caregiver, and I were awe-struck by the accommodations. It was a remarkable experience that we will never forget. This selfless act of kindness that you men and women have demonstrated, do so much more for us than the obvious of providing us a wonderful time on the mountain. I think I speak for all veterans when I say that these acts of love and support give us a renewed sense of pride and worth in what we have done. Trips such as this shift our attention from what we may view as no longer possible to what is possible, providing us with an ever increasingly optimistic view of our futures; and for that ladies and gentlemen, no words will ever be enough. I am truly humbled by your generosity.
Here is Mark adjusting his snow board.
The 3 day Ski Camp at Steamboat Springs last weekend was a great success, a great gain for the Warriors. We were hosted royally. Billy Kidd got us into this great connection with STARS. STARS is highly organized and welcoming, and the Camp was conducted without any hitches, in spite of the complexity of the Camp. STARS organized lodging in great condominiums at the area for 24 participants, full breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and ski gear and clothes and lift tickets, and assigned the local volunteer instructors very well matched to each of the small groups..
The Friday evening buffet was great prime rib, trout, BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken, all the condiments and dishes, a great desert table (pictures attached). This was hosted at the top of the Gondola, and included a live band. Saturday dinner was downtown at the Smokehouse, and featured a film on disabled skiing shot by Warren Miller’s son and Producer Matt Feeney who presided over the showing. Sunday dinner was also great, with motivational ex-combat speakers Robi Powers and Sal Gonzales.
Billy Kidd skied some of the Warriors and attended the breakfasts and dinners. The weather was fantastic, -20 F the week before, but +20F for our Camp.
The days on the slopes ended with broad smiles on tired faces. It is inspiring to see what these Warriors get out of such an experience, the boost they get out of overcoming this physical challenge. Some did not want the Camp to end.
STARS is offering to furnish lift tickets and ski gear free to any Warriors and families and caregivers that want to return to Steamboat to ski in the future. We owe them great thanks.
I am attaching some pictures of the outing.
STARS is offering to make this an annual event, so we now have an activity on the opposite of the calendar from the whitewater trips, hopefully to keep up a momentum of healing. And STARS is offering us a summer camp in August to include camping, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and other outdoor summer activities.
We are booked to launch the whitewater trips through Canyonlands National Park on the Colorado River, Moab to Lake Powell, on June 6 and June 13. We will bunk in in Moab at the Aarchway the evening before the launches, and will stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge the day we get off the river. A fantastic setting,www.RedCliffsLodge.com, take a look. If you ever want a great place to stay near Moab………..
Best regards, Thanks for all of your support. We are growing in a nice way.
Greetings to all of you supporters,
This is a long newsletter, but I have a lot of good news since our last newsletter. If you have not followed us and want to catch up, visit our web site www.WarriorsOnCataract.org or see us on Facebook, Warriors On Cataract.
Last year’s two whitewater trips went well, even though there was not much water in the river. On the plus side, the beaches were wide and the water was warm. So we (and the 4 service dogs) spent a lot of time floating and swimming. The meals were excellent as usual, (capon cordon bleu, steaks, omlettes to order, cowboy coffee, the guides even set a banquet table at Rapid 10), the guides were excellent, the camps great. All went well. The Warriors spent a lot of beach time sharing experiences and bonding up late into the night under the clear skies and billions of stars. The National Park, as usual, was spectacular.
Three therapists from the Salt Lake VA, under the sponsorship of the Sierra Club, brought 13 Wounded Warriors were on one of the trips. This was in a University of Michigan study to assess the benefits of this outdoor activity and to determine its longevity, how it persists (ahd hopefully, what we might do to enhance the benefits). The study is ongoing, so the results are not yet published.
The Moab VFW provided a BBQ dinner before and after the trips at the Aarchway Motel (furnished by Mike Bynum) and the Canyonlands Best Western (furnished by Zach Bynum). Monogrammed boonie hats were furnished by Atlanco, and 120 excellent photo albums were furnished by CDS Publications of Oregon. Estey Printing printed collages, thank you notes, and an array of business cards, brochures, and other material. Cabelas furnshed doggie life preservers so the Warriors could swim with their service dogs. Johnson Water Sports furnished great life jackets. Home Depot furnished water coolers, umbrellas, chairs, much more. The list goes on.
We had three British Royal Marines over to join us. They are all actors in the highly acclaimed play “The Worlds of Charlie F.” There is a link to that play in a previous newsletter on our web site. They stayed with me in Boulder for a few days, but two of them didn’t come home at night. Turns out that local girls took a liking to them …………….I think it’s that British accent.
If you missed it, one of last summer’s raft trip was on Public Broadcast Television last Fall. There is a link to that segment on our Facebook.
We will be skiing about 20 to 25 Wounded Warriors, caregivers, and spouses in a 3 day ski camp January 26-28. Accommodations will be at the base of the ski area, most meals will be furnished. The Rio Grand Restaurant is furnishing dinner on one night, and we will ride the gondola to the top of Mount Werner and watch the sunset and dine in a restaurant there. The STARS program is sponsoring us, and can accommodate most any level of disability, including monoskis. Skiing is a physical that will build morale and self-esteem, as well as being a very good social sport. And it is opposite on the calendar from the raft trips, and will help to keep up the momentum of healing and reintegration. Mark Litynski, the Marine who inspired the spawning of Warriors On Cataract, will fly in to sky with us, as will Billy Kidd. Mike Bye, the Steamboat Ski Area staff photog/videographer will shoot the event and it will go up on national news feeds.
We will launch the whitewater trips on the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park, Moab to Lake Powell, on June 6 and June 13, 4 days and 25 Warriors on each trip. We learned quite a bit last year, and spent some time among us organizers analyzing what we did right and what we did wrong. So we have directives on what we want to do better.
Colin Fryer of the Red Cliffs Inn has asked us to bunk in at his lodge at the end of the two trips. An extremely wonderful setting on the Colorado River a bit upstream of Moab in Castle Valley; be sure to check out their web site, http://www.redcliffslodge.com/. It’s fantastic!!
An advance warning, I will be sending out letters asking for continued support. I can’t thank you enough for your past support. From the comments of the Warriors and the Facebook and email traffic, I feel we are doing a great measure of good for these Warriors, more than I had imagined, although I wish we could broaden and enlist more Warriors. If you don’t get a letter, feel free anyway…………27 year old 501(c)3 Outdoor Buddies is handling all of our finances.
Skiing is something I have been wanting for the WWs, a physical challenge that is difficult, requires them to apply their military discipline, they might have to go at it several times, but something they can finally achieve. I feel that, more than the raft trip, this would boost self-esteem and confidence, help them to downplay and disregard their disabilities. And it would introduce them to a great outdoor sport that they could enjoy in the future at their convenience with their buddies and family, not have to wait until summer when the river is up for that once-a-year whitewater trip.
Julie Taulman of STARS (Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports) has now offered a ski camp for Wounded Warriors from VA Hospitals and elsewhere, to include lift tickets, ski gear, accommodations at the ski area, some dinners. Julie will accommodate perhaps 25 Wounded Warriors to be in a 3 day STARS ski camp January 25-28. STARS can accommodate almost any level of disability. Billy Kidd will ski with us. I want to get triple amputee Mark Litynski out from Walter Reed; he is the inspiration that spawned the Warriors On Cataract effort, was on the first raft trip last summer.
I’m attaching the STARS flier announcing this adventure. I put this out to the VA Hospital therapists 2 days ago, already have 11 WWs that want to sign up.
I have been talking with Billy about having the ski areas comp lift tickets and rental gear to WWs and their families on into the future. Kidd knows many of the higher-ups in the area ownerships. He says they don’t often do such things, but we’ll see.
Our whitewater trips for next summer are on the calendar for launches on June 7 and June 14. Let’s hope for a big water year. These combat soldiers are adrenaline junkies, like the big rapids.