Fourteen Canadian Forces members and three members of the Australian Defence Force have accepted the challenge of a five-day ski/boarding camp on Mount Washington.
Hosted by the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS), Mount Washington Alpine Resort, and the Soldier On program, the fourth annual Learn to Ski Festival introduces disabled veterans to adaptive 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 17 veterans from across Canada and Australia have signed up for a week of ski and boarding instruction.
“We’ve seen people’s lives change in the course of a few short 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.”
Having arrived in the Valley on Sunday, the Vets have a week packed not only of snow sports, but also have a chance to socialize in the community. “The local support has been outstanding,” said Hooge.
Sponsors for this event include Barry Van Dusen of the Whistle Stop Pub, who is hosting a meet-and-greet on Wednesday evening, six Legions from around the Island, Crown Isle’s courtesy van, Comox Taxi, Ed Homer of EcoFilms, and the Best Western Plus Westerly Hotel.
A number of dignitaries are attending, as well. Observing the logistics of holding an adaptive snowsports program, and to see fellow Australian veterans on the slopes, Australian High Commissioner Justin Brown, Australian Military Attaché Lt.-Col. Jamie Patten-Richens, and Lt.-Col. Richard Mallet from the Australian Army will be at Mount Washington.
On the mountain throughout part of the week, Tracy Bymoen, an associate producer, and Percy Von Lipinski, host and presenter on CNN, will film the festival for a documentary.
The week wraps up with a banquet on Friday night at the Florence Filberg Centre, with local musician and entertainer Kenny Shaw.
For more information on the festival, VISAS, and/or to enter a team for the Herb Bradley Coca-Cola Classic fundraiser Sunday, visit www.visasweb.ca.
You can now also follow VISAS on Facebook.
— Vancouver Island
Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS)