Author Archive for Kaila Busk

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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Durango chamber lists awards finalists

Published in the Durango Herald on January 6, 2015

The Durango Chamber of Commerce announced the finalists for its annual awards ceremony. The awards will be bestowed Jan. 22 at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

The nominated finalists are:

Citizen of the Year: Susan Lander, Steve Parker and Sidny Zink.

Business of the Year: Coldwell Banker, Durango Motor Co. and Kroegers Ace Hardware.

Small Business of the Year: CJ’s Diner, Sachs Construction and Tafoya Barrett and Associates.

Nonprofit of the Year: Adaptive Sports, Alternative Horizons and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado.

Bill Mashaw Volunteer of the Year: Ron Corkish, Janna Schaefer and Buck Skillen.

Spirit of Durango Award: Alpine Bank, Vectra Bank and Wells Group of Durango.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Eppich Photography, Mountain View TLC and Steve Eccher Design & Planning.

The event, called Durango Rocks, is open to the public. Tickets are $30 and include a pre-awards reception from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. The awards show begins at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Durango Chamber of Commerce office in Santa Rita Park, by calling 247-0312 or visiting

Tickets also are available at the Community Concert Hall box office located at the Durango Welcome Center at 802 Main Ave., by calling 247-7657 or visiting

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Boosters support winter sports teams

Published in the Durango Herald on November 18, 2014


ANNE CHASE/Durango Herald

It was a gathering of Purgatory oldtimers, longtime Durango Adaptive Sports Association supporters and the parents and friends of the 200 young people participating in nordic, alpine and freestyle skiing programs. Funds raised will provide coaching and training funding along with scholarships to help kids from all income levels participate in winter sports and “do something great,” as DWSF President Mike Elliott puts it.

Purgy’s chef, Dan Furlong, managed to get almost all of the food for dinner – prime rib, asparagus with hollandaise sauce and salad, with sweets for afters – donated by suppliers, while Tito’s Vodka provided the potent potable for some enticing cocktails and Ska Brewing Co’s brews were available for those imbibing something a little lighter.

The centerpiece of the evening, was, of course, the induction of the new Durango Winter Sports Hall of Fame, and it might well have been the most emotional induction in the hall of fame’s nine years.

The three inductees were Dave Spencer, founder of what is now Adaptive Sports, who died in 1986; his co-founder, friend and world-class athlete Lana Jo Chapin; and their student and even more highly decorated competitor Mary Riddell.

All three should be an inspiration to all of us, able-bodied and disabled, to get out there and live with gusto.

Spencer, who died far too young at age 26, “was a fantastic skier,” someone from the audience said. Friend Kristin Hilliard accepted on his behalf.

Unfortunately, because of her 93-year-old father’s illness, Chapin was unable to attend, but Susan Kroes, who was the executive director of Adaptive Sports in the early 1990s, accepted for her. Chapin was a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team from 1984 to 1989, medaling at both the 1984 and 1988 Paralympics and the 1986 World Championships. She was also a key member of the team that trained Riddell.

Riddell had the crowd on their feet. At 34, the youngest inductee to date, she began skiing with Spencer at the age of 3. Riddell has won so many medals and awards she and husband, Joe Bowman, and new baby, Sawyer, probably had to dedicate a room in their Boulder home to them. Among them are 27 national titles, 11 World Cup individual crystal globes plus two gold, two silver and two bronze medals from the Paralympics in Salt Lake City and Nagano, Japan. The 2000 Colorado Sports Woman of the Year, she now has a beautiful marble plaque to add to her display…

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Several locals receive top ski honors

Published in the Durango Herald on November 11, 2014

Mary Riddell – a below-the-knee amputee who was born with congenital bonding – now holds 27 national titles and six World Championship medals.

Mary Riddell – a below-the-knee amputee who was born with congenital bonding – now holds 27 national titles and six World Championship medals.

If there’s a will, there’s a way. Three former Durango-area residents will be inducted into the Durango Winter Sports Foundation’s Hall of Fame. Saturday’s event is called Alpineglow, an annual evening of dinner, dancing, fundraising and celebrating.


Dave Spencer

The foundation was created nine years ago to support local kids in winter sports – from developing athletes to elite competitors.

While competitive slalom, giant slalom and downhill skiing is demanding for athletes of any caliber, these inductees faced even greater challenges.

When Dave Spencer lost his right leg to cancer in 1979, he didn’t slow down. In 1982, he packed up shop and moved to Durango, becoming a ski instructor. The next year, along with Lana Jo Chapin, Spencer founded The Durango/Purgatory Handicapped Sports Association, now known as the Adaptive Sports Association.

Spencer directed the association until the year of his death, in 1986, but his legacy lives on. The 17th annual Dave Spencer Classic race kicks off Feb. 27.

Chapin herself is a below-the-knee amputee as the result of a motorcycle accident, and her never-give-up fortitude saw her through a successful career in ski racing.

Chapin was a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team from 1984 to 1989, and she took medals at the 1984 and 1989 Paralympics and 1986 World Championships. Today, she has one gold, two silver and one bronze medal.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Chapin said about her induction. “I’m in great company and humbled to share the honer with so many recipients before me.”

Chapin, living near Allison, still skis, “on my own, to feel the wind in my hair.”

She said working with others helped her in her own way. As an ASA ski coach, Chapin developed younger skiers, many of whom had their own success stories.

Mary Riddell is a below-the-knee amputee, born with congenital bonding. She received her first prosthetic leg at 7-months old. By age 3, she was downhill skiing. That’s when she met Dave Spencer.

“I think I asked him if our legs would ever grow back,” she said.

Living in Dove Creek, her parents noticed her knack for the slopes. By age 9, she was on the ski team.

“My parents would drive me over (to Durango) every Thursday, and I would stay with Lana Jo for the weekend,” Riddell said, now living in Boulder.

Chapin coached Riddell for six years.

“Giving of ourselves and helping coach others would bring success to myself,” Chapin said…

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FASTSIGNS of Durango donates vehicle graphics

Published in the FASTSIGNS Blog August 19, 2014


SABINE/Global Print Monitor

The Adaptive Sports Association (ASA) in Durango, Colorado works with students to overcome physical and cognitive challenges in a supportive environment, and is celebrating 30 years of inspiring individuals with special needs through participation in outdoor sports and activities such as skiing, rafting, canoeing and camping.


SABINE/Global Print Monitor

FASTSIGNS® of Durango donated vehicle graphics to help grab the attention of people walking or driving as the van passes by. For excursions, ASA students and staff travel in a new beautiful van sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

“We are thrilled with the fantastic new vehicle wrap on the Adaptive Sports bus!” said Tim Kroes, Executive Director of Adaptive Sports Association. “The compliments are pouring in from our clients, volunteers and staff.”

To reflect the organization’s mission of creating a supportive and positive environment, FASTSIGNS designed the vehicle wrap with photos of ASA participants’ smiling faces as they enjoy skiing and whitewater rafting.

ASA’s logo and phone number are prominently placed on the front doors to identify the organization. FASTSIGNS also included a QR code on the back of the van’s car wrap, which people can scan with their smartphones to get more information from the organization’s website.

Using vivid graphics and a friendly design, FASTSIGNS transformed the ASA’s van to capture interest everywhere it goes.

*FASTSIGNS of Durango, CO is owned by Laurie Sigillito and managed by Jessica Unruh.

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Dave Spencer Classic kicks off 14th year

Published in the Durango Herald on February 29, 2012

The snow this week arrived just in time for the 14th annual Dave Spencer Ski Classic, the annual fundraiser for Durango Adaptive Sports Association.

The classic includes a number of events, from the opening reception today to team competitions Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s race includes prizes for everything from consistency and speed to best wipeout.

“The Mountain Rally on Sunday is going to be so much fun,” Adaptive Sports event coordinator Karen Esser said. “It’s a poker run, trivia contest, silly fun contests, all pertaining to stories that ran in The Durango Herald.”

As teams ski over the slopes of Purgatory, they’ll be dressing as zombies to commemorate the march on Halloween, skiing through Fort Lewis College pennants to celebrate the men’s soccer team’s national championship and, inevitably, visiting the Bridge to Nowhere.

“And, of course, the not-to-be-forgotten yearbook photo,” Esser said, indicating that boas will be involved for that stop. “It’s ‘Amazing Race’ types of clues.”

Adaptive Sports provides year-round outdoor recreational activities for people of all ages with physical or developmental disabilities. The Dave Spencer weekend is its largest fundraiser of the year.

“Last year, we made an unbelievable $82,000,” Esser said. “We may not make that this year, but we sure hope to come close.”

There still are slots available for teams, and team members must raise at least $150 each to participate in the weekend’s activities. Saturday teams have five people, and Sunday teams may be made up of two or three people. Participants will be fed lunch both days over the weekend and are invited to the awards party Sunday evening. Participants also are responsible for purchasing their lift tickets.

“You don’t have to put together a whole team to participate,” Esser said. “I can sign you up with a team that has a vacancy or put together a team of individuals…”