Slipping and sliding and riding the slopes.
That’s what a group of disabled veterans had the chance to do this weekend at Mt. Bachelor.
The 16th annual Heroes event with Oregon Adaptive Sports runs Saturday and Sunday, pairing veterans with certified instructors who helped them up and down the mountain.
The group availed of skis and snowboards built specifically to provide more support for those with disabilities.
“This weekend is always a highlight for us every year,” said Pat Addabbo, Oregon Adaptive Sports’ Executive Director. “It’s just so great to see the support from the community, the volunteers that come, the athletes willing to push themselves, to push their limits and gain the benefits of outdoor recreation. And that sense of joy, the sliding on snow, just the feelings that you get from being here in these beautiful spaces.”
Air Force Veteran George Hamilton spent 20 years in the service, and has been involved with Oregon Adaptive Sports for 10 years.
He had to take the past few years off the Heroes event due to medical concerns, but he said returning to the mountain was like ‘coming home’.
“I come up the slopes, and I’m past a lot of the feelings I have over being sick, over being hurt. I’ve been loose, I’ve been doing things I couldn’t normally do. And it’s so very cool,” he said.
Hamilton said he couldn’t describe how much the team at Oregon Adaptive Sports means to him.
“I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had some PTSD and I’ve gotten through a lot of things that I wouldn’t have gotten through without the regular activities that I have here,” he said. “I just can’t begin to tell you how special these guys are to me and what they mean to me. This was like a homecoming, going back.”
Abbaddo said the eight veterans in this year’s program receive lodging and sports instruction free of charge for the whole weekend.
The participants came from all over Oregon and Washington to build confidence, skill and camaraderie with other veterans on the slopes.
Veterans are often connected to the program through the Oregon Veterans Association and the Paralyzed Veterans Association.