February 4, 2013 · 3:33 PM

CPL. ANDY SOCIAL (left), a member of 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, takes to the slopes of the Mount Washington Alpine Resort in a sit-ski, as adaptive snowsports instructor Neill Lamberton (right) follows. / PHOTO BY VISAS

Twenty-seven Canadian Armed Forces members participated in this week's sixth annual Veteran’s Festival, a five-day ski/boarding program on Mount Washington.

Hosted by the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) and Mount Washington Alpine Resort, with major funding from the Soldier On program and the True Patriot Love Foundation, the festival introduced ill and injured veterans to adaptive alpine and Nordic skiing, and snowboarding.

“We are very excited that this program has grown so quickly,” said VISAS Veteran’s Festival organizer Glen Hooge. Starting in 2007 with one participant, this year 27 men and women from across western Canada signed up for a week of ski and boarding instruction.

“We’ve seen people’s lives change in the course of a few sort days,” added Hooge. “Our volunteer instructors are proud to be part of the Festival, and know that the challenges and accomplishments experienced by the veterans are deeply meaningful.”

The veterans arrived in the Comox Valley on Sunday, Jan. 27, coming from as far away as Shilo, Man. for a week packed not only of snow sports, but a chance to socialize and get to know the community. “The local support has been outstanding,” said Hooge.

Sponsors and support for this event included the Comox and Courtenay Legions, 888 Wing of Royal Canadian Air Force Association, Federal Superannuity National Association (FSNA), Comox Valley Taxi, and Barry Van Dusen at the Whistle Stop Pub.

19 Wing Comox provided daily transportation to and from the hill. At the meet and greet on Sunday at the Westerly Hotel, the True Patriot Love Foundation’s co-founder, Mike Burns, attended from Toronto. Branch 160 Royal Canadian Legion hosted the Veteran’s closing Awards Banquet in Comox on Friday, Feb. 1.

For more information on the Veteran’s Festival, the Herb Bradley Pepsi Challenge Fundraiser set for  Sunday, Feb. 10, or for donations visit www.visasweb.ca. You can also follow www.facebook.com/home.php" \l "!/pages/Vancouver-Island-Society-for-Adaptive-Snowsports/162009843846213"VISAS on Facebook and on Flickr.

– Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snow Sports