MANSFIELD, Ohio (WJW) – Twenty disabled U.S. military veterans are being treated to a weekend on the slopes at the Mansfield Snow Trails for Adaptive Sports Connection’s 24th Annual Veteran Ski weekend.
“Veterans with a disability are paired with trained instructor volunteers, and they get a two-and-a-half-hour lesson on the hill,” Adaptive Sports Connection Director of Sports and Volunteers Maddison Mattey said. “By the end of that lesson, our goal for that lesson is to make them feel as independent and confident as possible.”
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant Gayle-Jayne Allyson lost her right leg after complications with surgeries during her service. She participates in several sports with Adaptive Sports Connection, which gives her the chance to keep living life to the fullest.
“It’s just like riding a bike,” she said about skiing. “It’s like, first you go down, and you’re like, ‘I haven’t ridden for a while.’ Then you’re like, ‘oh yeah, this is it. Here you go,’ and you’re down,” Allyson said.
The ski trip gives the vets the chance to challenge themselves, finding independence and freedom through the sport.
Seventeen-year Army Sergeant First Class John Wade lost his lower left leg in a car accident during his service. He said being on the slopes gives him a thrill that he doesn’t get every day.
“I’ve done more with an amputation than I did before when I had two regular legs,” he said. “It’s like life has really started after my amputation. You get to a point where nothing is going to stop you.”
The veterans are fitted with adaptive prosthetics for skiing to aid them on their runs down the trails, making them feel invincible.
“I can do this and I can do a heck of a lot more,” Allyson said.
“Keep that positive attitude and you’re unstoppable,” Wade said.
Adaptive Sports Connection is seeking volunteers to help with future events in a range of sports. To volunteer, follow this link to their website.