Published in the Durango Herald February 27, 2014
Thirty years ago, I met a young man who had a dream. That man, Dave Spencer, arrived at Purgatory, now Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, as an accomplished skier despite having lost a leg to cancer. Dave dreamed of a program that would open doors to physically challenged individuals who could ski and enjoy the natural world as he did.
Dave lived only two years after beginning what was then called the NFL race to which professional football players and others came in 1984. His dream became a reality that now serves hundreds of physically, mentally and emotionally challenged each year, folks who learn to ski and know the joy Dave Spencer knew.
Dave was an energetic, happy person, someone who overcame any limitation he had and graced all he met with excitement in life. Today, he would be proud to know that the Adaptive Sports Association, during its 30 years has served wounded veterans, people who are blind, school youth who are challenged and individuals who gain courage and personal empowerment by learning to ski.
The Durango community has embraced, wholeheartedly, ASA during its 30-year-life. Volunteers annually devote more than 15,000 hours to ASA as instructors, office staff members, drivers, housing hosts and other needs. This year, 270 trained winter volunteers are assisting with the ski program. Businesses throughout the region support ASA, and as many as 900 aspiring athletes will receive private lessons before the 2014 ski season is over. Of that number, 70 percent will be participants from this area – schoolchildren or local residents with disabilities. The remaining 30 percent will be made up of national participants having access through scholarship programs, military scholarships and independent families on vacation. Several of the athletes trained by ASA have graduated to competing in the international Paralympics.