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Sam Bodger’s Experience at Adaptive Sports Association

Published March, 2018 by Sam Bodger on

By Sam Bodger

In the beginning of February, I had the unique opportunity to learn how to ski with the Adaptive Sports Association (ASA) in Durango, Colorado via a scholarship from the Kiwanis Club of Torrey Pines. As with trying any new thing, I was nervous, especially since I had only been on a prosthetic for six months, and as a native San Diegan, I had no experience with winter sports. I quickly discovered that everything I learned while adaptive skiing could be used in my everyday life. Here are a few of the things I learned from my first time on the slopes as an amputee.

Anyone can do it!

Samantha Bodger_adaptive skiing_2

I was initially worried that I wouldn’t be able to learn how to ski properly, as I only had my everyday walking leg. This fear dissipated as soon as I walked into ASA’s cozy cabin situated at the bottom of the bunny slopes. I saw not only athletes of all abilities, but also walls filled with equipment that can adapt the sport to any skill level. I was surprised by the variety of equipment they had available: sit skis, ski walkers, ski bikes, etc.  I was even more surprised that the only modification I needed was a ski boot on my prosthetic side that was one size bigger.

Sure, things were going to be a little more challenging than if I was able-bodied, but if there’s anything I have learned from being an amputee, it’s that we are capable of much more than we believe.

I’ve found this to be a common attitude among athletes in all adaptive sports.

Don’t be embarrassed

Samantha Badger_4


Another thing I learned within a few minutes on the slopes is that I had to throw out any shame. I felt paranoid that the lift operators were annoyed because they had to completely stop the lift every time we rode. However, my instructor, MK, reassured me by saying, “It doesn’t matter if they’re annoyed, it’s their job”. This resonated with me, because it made me proud of the fact that I was even trying to ski at all, let alone on a prosthetic.

So, I stopped apologizing for my adaptations, and instead focused on making the most out of my time on the slopes.

When I let go of any embarrassment I had, it was pure magic. Sure, I might have fallen, and even started to ski backwards down the hill, but I was having fun, and that was all that mattered.

Things that work for others won’t always work for you

No two adaptive athletes are completely the same, which means that no two adaptations will be identical. Part of me believed that I was going to stand up on those skis, and surprise everyone with my incredible abilities, but that wasn’t the case. I was having trouble shifting my weight on and off my prosthetic, but my instructors had all kinds of tricks up their sleeves because they were used to working with athletes of all abilities. I tried numerous methods, like thumping my uphill ski, and imagining I was sitting on a barstool, until finally I found something that worked perfectly for me.

It took a lot of trial and error, and perseverance, but everything is easier when you’re surrounded by people who want to see you succeed.

“Better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow”

Samantha Badger_adaptive skiing_3

At the end of my second day on the slopes, one of the instructors asked how my lesson went, and I replied with, “Better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow”.

This phrase stuck in my head and became my mantra for the rest of my trip. Although my progress wasn’t anything extensive, I went from not being able to ski, to skiing without assistance, which is a win in my eyes. Often times, it can be discouraging when progress isn’t substantial, but that’s not the important part. The important part is that you got out there and tried something new, in my case, something that I likely never would have tried if I didn’t lose my leg.

The power of sport is that it allows us to see the best qualities within ourselves, and continue to move forward, not only as an athlete, but as an individual.

ASA Volunteer Offers GRIT Freedom Chair For Loan

Woman uses various wheeled gear for outdoor pursuits

Paralysis from climbing accident doesn’t keep Malloy-Post inside

Published in the Durango Herald on 6/19/2017 :

Durango Herald – Woman Uses Various Wheeled Gear…

Rosa Malloy-Post riding her Bomber mountain bike.

Rosa Malloy-Post using the GRIT Freedom Chair

Rosa Malloy-Post with GRIT Freedom Chair and Bomber mountain bike.

Rosa Malloy-Post was 23 years old when she was paralyzed from the waist down after a climbing accident in 2013.

The New York native moved to Durango in 2009 to take a job with Open Sky Wilderness Therapy, and she, like many people who find this pocket of Southwest Colorado, immediately took to all the outdoors offers.

But on May 4, 2013, Malloy-Post’s life was forever changed when she and a few friends went on a trip to Utah’s Indian Creek. While climbing lead on a route in the Bridger Jack Towers area, she fell and broke her back.

For the next two and a half months, Malloy-Post recovered in the hospital. Then she started figuring out ways to not only live independently, but also to sustain her outdoor pursuits.

Recently, Malloy-Post was awarded one more tool to help with that effort: a “GRIT Freedom Chair,” a wheelchair designed to better navigate rough terrain.

“Like any other person in Durango, I have a lot of different pieces of equipment,” Malloy-Post said. “And I think this piece will be really good for certain aspects of my life, like river trips, camping and going to music festivals.”

In 2010, a student-led research project at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as MIT, was tasked with finding ways to improve wheelchair performance over difficult terrain.

The project took nearly two years, said Tish Scolnik, a former student that was in the group, with dozens of prototypes requiring the feedback of hundreds of people to fine-tune a chair that would meet the demand of many uses.

As the students delved more deeply into the project, they realized more and more people were in need of a wheelchair that could work not on just trails, but also backyards, beaches or even on rough walkways.

So, after what they deemed a successful design, the students took their wheelchair one step further. In 2012, they started a company offering its signature “off-road” Freedom Wheelchair, known as GRIT.

“The feedback’s been pretty awesome,” said Scolnik. “We have a wall in our office where we put up pictures of all the places people have gone.”

Last year, Scolnik said the company started the “Pay it Forward” fund, taken from a portion of sales, for people who could benefit from the wheelchair but can’t afford it.

Malloy-Post in May was the second recipient of the award, Scolnik said.

“We look at a lot of things with our applicants,” Scolnik said. “In particular, her spirit of adventure stood out. Clearly, she’s a very outdoorsy woman that finds a lot of meaning in nature. And, she’s very community driven.”

Indeed, Malloy-Post said she intends to share the wheelchair with any members in the community who could also find it useful. She said those interested should contact Adaptive Sports.

Ann Marie Meighan, executive director of Adaptive Sports, said there is all sorts of equipment for people with disabilities as they try to continue with activities that gave them fulfillment pre-injury.

“Adaptive equipment is really evolving as an industry,” Meighan said. “There’s a lot of people tinkering in their garages. Somebody needed it, so they built it, and then they make it for other people.”

Meighan said the Freedom Chair will likely fill an important gap between traditional wheelchairs and a piece of equipment such as an off-road hand cycle, which is designed for extreme terrain.

“This could certainly be the difference between someone being able to move around outdoors independently as opposed to relying on someone else for help,” she said.

And for Malloy-Post, it’s been a constant journey to accomplish that independence.

After her injury, she enrolled at Fort Lewis College and earned a degree in biology. Now 27, Malloy-Post is constantly spending time in the outdoors when she’s not working as a medical assistant at Mercy Regional Medical Center.

“It’s a lot to go from being a 23-year-old, completely independent person to having to learn how to do everything all over again,” Malloy-Post said. “But I do what I have to do to make my life meaningful and purposeful.”


Dave Spencer Classic 2017

Dave Spencer Classic raises money and spirits

 Monday, March 6, 2017 7:34 PM
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The Lake Nighthorse Fish School won the award for highest fundraising team at the Dave Spencer Ski Classic, which took place at Purgatory Resort Feb. 24 to 26. Bringing in more than $20,000, team members were, from left, Corbin Miller, Brian Shafer, Miles Lillard, Dave Trautmann and Doug Miller.

Tim Kroes retires after 25 years at the Adaptive Sports Association

Published in the Durango Herald on June 19, 2016

He has led the Durango Adaptive Sports Association through remodels, vehicle purchases and program expansions benefitting hundreds of participants, and now Tim Kroes is stepping down after 25 years with the organization.

Durango Adaptive Sports Association’s staff and volunteers have a reputation for dressing in costumes, none more enthusiastically so than former Executive Director Tim Kroes, seen here at the volunteers’ end-of-season party in April at Purgatory Resort. Kroes retired May 31 after 25 years with the organization.

Durango Adaptive Sports Association’s staff and volunteers have a reputation for dressing in costumes, none more enthusiastically so than former Executive Director Tim Kroes, seen here at the volunteers’ end-of-season party in April at Purgatory Resort. Kroes retired May 31 after 25 years with the organization.


Tim Kroes, who retired as executive director of the Durango Adaptive Sports Association on May 31, celebrates with his replacement, Ann Marie Meighan, at a party held in his honor June 5 at the Edgemont Picnic Grounds.

Tim Kroes shows off his Lucy and Ethel lunchbox, one of several gifts he received for his retirement from the Durango Adaptive Sports Association. His retirement party was held June 5 at the Edgemont Picnic Grounds.

Tim Kroes shows off his Lucy and Ethel lunchbox, one of several gifts he received for his retirement from the Durango Adaptive Sports Association. His retirement party was held June 5 at the Edgemont Picnic Grounds.


Tim Kroes is stunned as he receives a lifetime ski pass to Purgatory Resort from Judy Wachob, vice president of village services at the resort, on June 5 at Edgemont Picnic Grounds. Kroes was fêted for his retirement after 25 years with the organization.

Adaptive Sports provides summer and winter recreational opportunities for people with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“I’ll probably be back where I started, volunteering,” he said at his recent retirement party. “This is a good time to pass the torch because we have this amazing young team ready to take it.”

Tim Kroes is stunned as he receives a lifetime ski pass to Purgatory Resort from Judy Wachob, vice president of village services at the resort, on June 5 at Edgemont Picnic Grounds. Kroes was fêted for his retirement after 25 years with the organization.Kroes, who is from Michigan, met his wife, Susan, at the University of Colorado-Boulder. The couple moved to Durango after spending seven years in San Francisco, where she was the one who discovered Adaptive Sports, and preceded him in serving as the organization’s executive director.

“We stayed at the Caboose Motel and didn’t know a single person,” Kroes said. “While I looked for a job, I volunteered for Adaptive to get cheaper skiing and to give something back. I’m the one who got something back. For 25 years, there wasn’t a week that went by when I didn’t get a little choked up reading a letter, getting a phone call or a hug from a student.”

Kroes, 57, held just about every position in the organization. Starting as a volunteer, he was assistant program director and program director before becoming the executive director, a position he held for more than a decade in two different stints. He took a two-year hiatus in the middle while he and his family traveled the world, and returned in 2007.

“A lot of nonprofit directors in the area look at Tim as the example of a perfect nonprofit executive director,” said Lynn Martens, who sits on the Adaptive Sports board and works with numerous nonprofits in her communications business. “He’s the executive director role model.”

The work Kroes has done has changed people’s lives…

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Frolic and skiing for Adaptive Sports

Published in the Durango Herald in on March 22, 2016


What do the Abominable Snowmen, Bookworms, Fur Balls and the Gold King Swim Team have in common?

Stumped? They were all team names for the 18th annual Dave Spencer Ski Classic, that one-of-a-kind fundraiser for the Durango Adaptive Sports Association on the last weekend in February.

EP-160329887.jpg&ExactW=218And what a fundraiser it was. The weekend of activities brought in more than $100,000 – for the third year in a row. And even better than that, it brought out a lot of smiles and laughter.

Twenty-seven teams participated in the weekend Race Day and Mountain Rally, with most getting into the spirit with themes and costumes. The awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel topped 175 attendees for the first time, and 21 sponsors, either for the annual, winter or Dave Spencer classic itself, helped make it a success.

For Race Day, individuals and teams estimate what their time will be on the course, so it’s not only the fastest but also the best guessers. Pat Barrett, on the April Fools team, was only 0.01 seconds off his estimate, which merits a “Holy cow!” The Williams Co. team of five members was only 0.29 seconds off its cumulative estimate, which is thiiiiis close to meriting its own exclamation point.

The Wild Ones, also known as the Abominable Snowmen, took home best costume honors, which is saying something in this duded-out crowd. Made up of Adaptive participants Kristin Ingle, Lucas Talbot and Luciano Trujillo, with assistance from volunteers Mary Lasser and Ally Kaufman, you could have put an eye out with those “carrot” noses. The Fur Balls took wackiest costume, which, once again, is saying something.

Shawn Glasco lived up to his Bombers team’s name as the fastest man, and Isabelle Washburn of the Coca-Cola Kids Team was the fastest woman down the course.

Of course, the event is all about raising money for Adaptive Sports, which provides outdoor recreation opportunities for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. So awards went to the top fundraisers, too.

The top fundraising kids team was the Bookworms, who raised $5,600. (They had book jackets taped all over their ski clothes, which also makes them the most erudite team in my book. So kudos to Jacob Papi, Brandon Papi, Kyler Harbison, Carson Harbison and Austin Romero.)

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Paralympian Alana Nichols makes history with first adaptive ski descent of Silverton Mountain

Published January 5, 2016 by John Livingston in the Durango Herald

The San Juan Mountains took away Alana Nichols’ ability to walk, but it never diminished her love for the mountains she calls home.

Nichols, 32, was in high school when a trip in the backcountry north of Hesperus changed her life. While attempting a back flip, the snowboarder from Farmington landed back-first on a rock and was paralyzed from the waist down.

The injury did not slow Nichols, a four-time Paralympic athlete in wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing. She became the first American woman to win gold medals in the summer and winter Games, and last weekend, Nichols made more history when she became the first adaptive skier to descend Silverton Mountain on a monoski.

“I feel at home every time I come back here. The San Juan Mountains have been a blessing for me through and through,” Nichols said Tuesday in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “I learned how to snowboard at Purgatory and then broke my back and re-learned how to sit-ski at Purgatory. This area of the country has taken parts of me and given them back.

“All-in-all, I’m incredibly blessed by those mountains, and feel even more connected to them now that I’ve skied Silverton.”

Silverton Mountain offers some of the most difficult ski terrain in the continental United States. The base sits at 10,400 feet, and the mountain offers one chairlift that rises to 12,300 feet. It is well known for its heli-skiing and backcountry challenges.

Nichols said Silverton Mountain was her ultimate bucket-list destination from the time she started to snowboard as a 14-year-old.

She planned to spend the New Year’s holiday in Silverton with friends while on vacation from her new home in San Diego, where she is training for paracanoe in hopes of qualifying for the 2015 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio De Janeiro.

Plans quickly went into place for her first descent of the famously steep mountain.

“The stoke was high in town for me. Everyone who saw me in the parking lot, lift line, on the shuttle bus, they were all giving high-fives and telling me how great it was to see me out,” Nichols said. “I felt really special.”

Nichols, who is now retired from alpine ski racing, took a team of five with her Saturday and skied a chute on the West face known as Tiger No. 2. After testing her turns and the snow conditions, she went up and took the Liftline down. She called the Liftline the most difficult task because of thick, choppy snow, and she wished she had brought a wider powder ski.

Nichols admitted to having the same nerves she would before a big Paralympic alpine ski race, but being part of an enthusiastic group helped her find a comfort zone. “It was amazing to watch,” said Nichols’ friend and ski partner William Lampe. “She would maybe get the point of her ski stuck in deep snow and need help to get the point out, but, if she ever fell or went down, she could correct herself easily and keep going. As far as I could tell, nothing bothered her at all. It’s tough skiing for anybody, and I was exhausted watching her, but everything went really smooth…”

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Tuesday is Colorado Gives Day

Published December 6, 2015 by Ann Butler in the Durango Herald

Supporters of several local nonprofits can leverage their donations by making their contribution on Colorado Gives Day, which is taking place for 24 hours starting at midnight Monday.



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Adaptive Sports stretches out

Published in the Durango Herald on August 17, 2015

Lee Large with Durango Fire Sprinkler, right, is assisted by Karola Hanks, fire marshal with the Durango Fire Protection District, in measuring for installation of a fire-suppression system Monday in the new Adaptive Sports building at the base of Purgatory Resort.

Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald

In general, it’s considered a good sign when an organization outgrows its space, and that’s certainly the case for the Durango Adaptive Sports Association and its building at Purgatory Resort. “We actually outgrew it 20 years ago,” said Tim Kroes, executive director of ASA, which serves people with cognitive and physical disabilities. “We’ve been having conversations with Purgatory for years about building our own building, and they were willing to donate a piece of land, but the infrastructure’s not installed yet in that area.”

The staff members and board of directors finally realized the timing for a new building is so far out, work needed to be done to the current building to carry them to the time when they can build their own facility.

“It will happen at some point,” Kroes said. “This is a temporary solution that may carry us for five years, eight years, maybe 10 years. It’s a more immediate solution that was very cost-effective.”

ASA did some fundraising, but the addition is being built in large part with the help of Jerry Pope and Emil Wanatka, owners of Timberline Builders. Wanatka sits on the ASA board. They have recruited in-kind and material donations that are bringing the costs to less than 50 cents on the dollar.

Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald

Without all the donations and in-kind work, Kroes estimates the total cost of the addition would have been about $130,000 to $140,000. However, because of all the assistance ASA has received, the final price tag for the group will be about $65,000 to $70,000, he said.

“People would come in and say, ‘This is what we can donate,’” said Ann Marie Meighan, program director of Adaptive Sports. “Then they’d come back to us and say, ‘We actually want to do more. What can we do?’”

The nonprofit is adding about 952 square feet, nearly doubling the usable space to the old 1,000-square-foot building, which was a Forest Service cabin built in 1942.

Meighan is most excited about the new utility room, which will house a washer and dryer and accessible shower, but having enough cabinet space in the kitchen will also be a welcome change.

The building’s also going to be safer, she said, because the Durango Fire Protection District helped install fire sprinklers throughout the building, including in the older sections…

Justin Wickes, a captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, climbs a ladder while working to install a fire-suppression system in the new Adaptive Sports building at the base of Purgatory Resort. Adaptive Sports is adding 952 square feet to its building at the resort.

Shaun Stanley/Durango Herald

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Arc of History on the ski slopes?

Published in the Durango Herald on April 10, 2015

arc of history, dave spencer ski classic

Team T Rex Tumblers- t-shirts read ‘For Sale: Cheap’

If you saw a group of people giddily clinking glasses at the Ore House on Tuesday, you might want to find out what they were celebrating.

They were the Top Fundraising Team and the Top Theme Team at the Dave Spencer Ski Classic at the end of February, and the award comes with $50 gift cards thanks to the generosity of the folks at the restaurant.

The Mercury Gives Team won the Wackiest Costume entry for its larger-than-life menagerie at the Dave Spencer Ski Classic benefitting Durango Adaptive Sports. They are, from left, Libby Mink, Jarred Sorenson, Sandi Herb, Heather Hormell and Joel Chambers.

Team Mercury Gives- winner of the ‘Wackiest Costume’

Dave Trautmann’s team raised $18,000.

It seems like the variations on the theme of the Arc of History are endless and endlessly entertaining.

Trautmann’s team – which also included Brian Shafer, Miles Lillard and Michelle and Mark James – took on the theme as the T. Rex Tumblers, putting on their creative caps to get the sculpture fit for skiing. Lillard used his mojo on some Domino’s Pizza boxes, so they became the rocks. Trautmann took on the tail, scoring a vaccuum hose, nozzle intact, at the Methodist Thrift Shop. And Shafer, continuing his run as the top fundraiser who’s also an Adaptive Sports participant at the event, with $7,000, became the dinosaur head. In fact, he had two dinosaur heads, a large one for the costume competition and a smaller one he could put atop his helmet so he could get under the safety bar on the lift and ski. Trautmann raised almost $4,700, and Lillard brought in $5,800, so they came in first and second place in the Top Fundraising Adult Category.

(Shafer, who has been on the team for nine years, is also in charge of the aforementioned glass clinking, a responsibility he takes quite seriously.)…

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Disabling cheer accident doesn’t keep Jennifer McCallson on the sidelines

Published in the University of Southern California News April 8, 2015

Jennifer McCallson

Jennifer McCallsonn takes off down the slopes in Durango, CO.

The day Jennifer McCallson’s world turned upside down plays in her mind like a silent film.

The auditorium is rocking with hundreds of high-schoolers on the edge of their seats, pumping up their role models and mentors – college-level cheerleaders in a fierce competition. The finishing number is a showstopper. McCallson opens her palms and lets the energy run through her. She takes off at dizzying speed, gaining momentum – a progression of tumbling passes. She is a treat to watch.

Then life starts to be counted in seconds, fractions, inches. In an instant, she collides midair with her male teammate. He lands on her neck, shattering her fifth cervical vertebra and crushing her spinal cord. She is fully conscious and instantly paralyzed from the neck down.

“One or two inches off, or seconds, and I wouldn’t be here,” McCallson remembers. “Just a slight alteration in my footing – it would have all been different.” A split second – fortuitous or calamitous, depending how you view it.”

Reclaiming the moment

She was 20, and doctors told her she would never walk again or live independently, let alone participate in any of the sports she loved. Her athletic dream was over. “Move on with your life,” they said.

She’s been proving them wrong ever since.

Jennifer McCallson and Sudo

Jennifer McCallson says her service Labrador, Sudo, taught her “to love again.”

Since that day 15 years ago, McCallson has earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management with an emphasis in wellness and fitness. She hand-cycled a half marathon, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, peddled at a spin-a-thon, jet-skied in the Pacific and snow-skied on Purgatory Mountain in Colorado. She’s kayaked, swam and surfed. She’s been riding horses for the last four years.

And she volunteers tirelessly for organizations that serve people with physical disabilities. She has made it a matter of principle to encourage the mind to go wherever the heart dares.

“I’m not going to let my fear get in the way of what I’m about to do,” she said. “I’m going to have an amazing life, and it won’t be hindered by the fact that I use a wheelchair…”

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