The 13th Annual Operation Mountain Freedom takes place Jan. 28 to Feb. 1 in Mammoth Lakes, California and will feature veterans with disabilities competing in sports such as alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and snowboarding.
Created for active duty military and veterans, the week-long camp encourages warriors with disabilities to face their challenges through sports. An athletic meet for active duty military and veterans with disabilities isn't just helping these people face their challenges through sport, it's also hoping to build bigger things for these wounded warriors.
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), the organization hosting the event, hopes the efforts of these wounded warriors will help shine a light on their ambitious new fundraising project — the National Wounded Warrior Center.
The National Wounded Warrior Center would be a "facility solely dedicated to the mental and physical recovery of wounded warriors," able to support 300 veterans each year in adaptive sports training in addition to providing services like physical therapy, counseling, continued education and and post-treatment housing guidance. By mid-2019 DSES aims to fundraise $12 million USD ($15.96 million CAD) of its anticipated $17.9 million USD ($23.91 million CAD) construction costs in order to break ground on the center before the end of the year.
"Each year we see overwhelming interest in Operation Mountain Freedom, and are always saddened to have to place veterans on the waiting list," said Kathy Copeland, founder and executive director of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, in a statement. "This outcry for these programs is what convinced us it was time to go one step further."
Copeland says the whole point is to provide more benefits to more wounded veterans.
"We have seen such a positive impact with Operation Mountain Freedom," added Copeland. "In just a week's time you can already witness their growing confidence in their bodies and how this affects their ability to communicate and meet social challenges. Just think what could happen with more resources and time!"
The non-profit Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra not only works with veterans, but also with children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. DSES supports a number of programs, from daily private lessons in both summer and winter sports, to group and family programs, to paralympic development camps.
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