Miracles On The Mountain

April 3, 2008

Less than 6 months after losing a leg to an IED in Afghanistan, Army PFC Michael DInkel is on the slopes ad exploring new possibilities at the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Snowmass Village.

Snowmass Mountain in Colorado was the site of miracles, as disabled veterans took part in the 22nd annual National Disabled Veterans Sports Clinic. For Army PFC Michael Dinkel, participating in the events only 6 short months after losing his leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, taking part in the event is therapeutic for him. Dinkle is currently a patient at Walter ReedArmy Medical Center, but right now, he’s enjoying himself, shimmying down the slopes of Snomass Mountain and vowing that he won’t let his disability stand his way, now or in the future. He’s determined to lead a full and productive life.

“I’m having a blast!” Dinkel exclaimed as he took a break after a run down the mountainside. “This is somethig I dreamed about.”

Dinkel isn’t the only active duty wounded warrior who is taking part alongside almost 400 disabled veterans at Snowmass for the clinic. They’re experience what the organizers of the event term, “Miracles on the Mountainside,” as they try Alpine and Nordic skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, hockey, curling, fencing as well as many other events.

By taking part in the Winter Sports Clinic, they’re demonstrating, not only to the world, but most importantly to themselves that a severe injuiry doesn’t have to prevent them from having a full, productive and fulfilling life. For Dinkel, it didn’t take much convincing that his amputation didn’t have to limit his life. He’s always loved skiing, so he was anxious to take part.

“Three months after I got blown up, went skiing,” Dinkel said, recalling a trip to Windham Mountain, NY, an event that was organized through Walter Reed.

Dinkel’s next ski trip was to Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania. There he continued to fine-tune his technique with his new adaptive skis. At Snowmass Mountain, Dinkel can concentrate on enjoying himself and participating in something that he loves, instead of the numerous surgeries he faces at Walter Reed, before he’ll be able to return home to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Even though taking part in the events at Snowmass Mountain, are a chance to get away for a few days, it’s also a huge part of the rehabilitation for Dinkel and the other wounded warriors, according to Lisette Mondello, the assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs.

“This is a rehabilitative event. It’snot about a week of camaraderie and ski lessons,” Mondello said. “It’s about taking someone who’s had a catastrophic injury and saying, ‘ Your life isn’t over. It’s time to start again.’”

For many of the warriors, they encounter moments of self-doubt and the feeling that their lives are going to be limited. Events such as this, are often the catalyst that they need to approach their rehabilitation and their lives with renewed vigor and determination. Events such as this make them realize that their lives don’t have to end because of their injuries. Being able to meet and work with military members who have overcome devastating injuries, such as
Major David Rozelle and others, gives them the inspiration to continue to strive to achieve their dreams.

Miracles on the Mountain DO happen, as disabled veterans take part in the 6 days of the 22nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

Many of the participants were first-timers, such as Vietnam-era veteran Harry Williamson, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. He admitted that he had some trepidation and doubts about his first time going down the slops inn an adaptive sit-ski.

“I’m nervous,” he said. “But I’m going to give it a try. I’m going to see if I can do it, to see if I can master it. And if I do, that’s another challenge I tried and I conqured.”

Conquering challenges is something these men and women do every day. They conquer the challenges of their rehabilitation, of learning to live their lives in a different way then they had in the past, and the conquer the challenge of the limitations that they sometimes place on themselves, because of their injuries. Overcoming those challenges, is one more step on the road to recovery for them.

Many of the volunteers helping at the clinic, are disabled veterans themselves, such as Darol Kubacz. Kubacz is a 33 year old Army veteran who was rendered a paraplegic during a training accident 15 years ago at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He remembered his own doubts as he attended his first winter sports clinic, only a year after his injury. The first time he ever skiied was after his injury, at his first winter sports clinic at Snowmass. He fell in love with it, so much so, that he moved to Vail, Colorado and is now an adaptive ski-instructor. He said that the clinic gave him something much more than just a new activity to pursue. It gave him the chance at a new life and it’s kept him coming back year after year. He’s now attending for the 13th time since his injury.

“It changed my life,” he said. “There’s so much that goes on here, on many levels. It’s about brotherhood. It’s about great people. It’s about great physical and emotional experiences. But most of all, it’s about positive mental attitude,” he said. “That’s why they’re teaching people here. Because when it comes down to it, the only way we are going to succeed and have fun in life is to have a positive mental attitude.”

It’s so inspirational to see the ways in which these wounded warriors are rebuilding their lives and the fact that they’re so willing to share their positive experiences with other wounded warriors. What better example, of their potential to achieve, then wounded warriors who are dealing with the same types of life changing injuries that they are.



4 Responses to “Miracles On The Mountain”

  1. All About Skis » Blog Archive » Miracles On The Mountain on April 3rd, 2008 1:04 am

    [...] Original post by Terri [...]

  2. Miracles On The Mountain on April 3rd, 2008 10:44 am

    [...] Original post by Terri [...]

  3. Pages tagged "nordic skiing" on May 23rd, 2008 4:43 am

    [...] nordic skiingOwn a Wordpress blog? Make monetization easier with the WP Affiliate Pro plugin. Miracles On The Mountain saved by 5 others     sweetsarah1122 bookmarked on 05/23/08 | [...]

  4. national trapshooting events on June 7th, 2008 5:34 am

    [...] Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Snowmass Village. Snowmass Mountain in Colorado washttp://soldiersmind.com/2008/04/03/miracles-on-the-mountain/Heroism and Athletics Converge in Omaha This Summer PR Newswire via Yahoo! News Veterans Prepare for [...]

Got something to say?