Aspen Elks Lodge
No. 224

2019 Winter Sports Clinic

The first week of April, our Lodge and community helped host 400 Veterans visiting Aspen/Snowmass for the 33rd Annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Over 300 Volunteers contributed more than 4000 hours of their time and drove their personal vehicles over 8000 miles.  In addition, Volunteers prepared, cooked, served and cleaned up after slightly more than 2600 lunches. Special thanks to George Markatos and Gerhard Mayritsch for again displaying their extraordinary culinary skills at the Top of the Village and Fish Pond. Also thanks to Kelly and Bryan for delicious Lodge lunches four successive days.

This year we had several dignitaries visit, including Mary Morgan, Grand Lodge, Barry Jesinoski, CFO of DAV, James Byrne, Deputy Secretary, Veterans Administration and Troy Erickson, State Chair, CEA Veterans Services. Thank you all for taking time from your busy schedules to attend.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank our supporters and in kind donors for their generosity, including Aspen Ski Company, Mountain Primal Meat, Ink Coffee, Aspen Party Rental, Sysco, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, True Brew Coffee, Jedediah’s, Ruth Harrison and the Colorado Elks Association. A Super Thank You to, “SS”, we couldn’t do this without your kind and quiet support.

The idea for the Clinic came from Sandy Trombetta, a physical therapist at the Grand Junction, VA hospital who thought that learning to ski could help heal Veteran patients both physically and mentally. He took the first small group of patients along with a few Volunteers to Powderhorn in the early 80s. Finally in 1987 the NDVWSC was officially created by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first year there were 90 participants and 20 VA Hospital staff members. The event grew in popularity and in 1991 DAV, (Disabled American Veterans) became a sponsor and the Clinic is now the crown jewel of disabled sports.

The first few Clinics were held at Crested Butte but soon moved over to Aspen/Snowmass for alpine and cross country skiing. With the move to Aspen, Rick Deane at the T Lazy 7 Ranch stepped up and offered the Veterans an opportunity to ride snow machines. In the early days and before the Clinic’s growth they would often cook steaks on the camp fire after the ride.

At this year’s Clinic Veterans had the opportunity to learn to ski, snowboard, climb, scuba dive, curling, sled hockey, archery, fly fishing and fly tying with the assistance of our many Volunteers. Along with the new paved walkway at the ranch Alec and Mindy Parker have built a new, “Bait Shack”, that really compliments the fish pond. Good job.

On behalf of the Colorado Elks Association, the State and local Lodge Veterans Services Committees, please accept our sincere thanks and appreciation for your effort and the Volunteer hours you have all contributed to the success of the 2019 Clinic. We look forward to another outstanding Winter Sports Clinic in 2020. Mark your calendars, the dates are March 28, through April 4, 2020.

Bob Cook
Veterans Services Committee

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