National Sports Center for the Disabled: Locally Operated World Leader in Creating + Providing Adaptive Outdoor Recreation Experiences

The National Sports Center for the Disabled, operating out of the Front Range and Winter Park areas, has been an innovative and determined pioneer in the world of adaptive sports for over 50 years. Their entire mission is based on the truth that everyone has ability, focusing on the "ability" in disability and building confidence in participants by giving them experiences they never dreamed possible. 

Partnering with Winter Park Resort, the YMCA of the Rockies, Devil's Thumb Ranch, and the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District and Denver professional sports teams, the NSCD offers summer and winter programming that gives athletes the opportunity to learn new sports skills, ski, snowboard, hike, bike, ride horses, rock climb, raft the river, sail, canoe, paddle board, practice archery and more. For competitive athletes, the NSCD Competition Center based at Winter Park Resort offers training programs for all ability levels, including those aspiring to reach the Paralympic Games. Bottom line--NSCD programming opens doors to worlds of athletic and outdoor possibilities using cutting-edge adaptive equipment and research, helping people with disabilities feel powerful, vibrant and full of life.  Read some of their stories to get a little glimpse into how the NSCD truly changes lives. 


The National Sports Center for the Disabled's story started back in January of 1970 when Colorado Children's Hospital asked the ski school at Winter Park Resort to teach amputees how to ski. One man rose to the occasion: Hal O'Leary (pictured here) spent the next six days teaching himself how to ski on a single ski, borrowing outriggers from friends for support. By the end of the first day of lessons, he had 23 amputees gliding down the hill. Hal's enthusiasm and passion for giving people the ability to experience the outdoors in a way they had written off was infectious, and, from it, the NSCD was born. Over 50 years later, the expanded program offerings, dedication to innovative equipment and never-say-never mentality have created an organization that continues to break down barriers between sports and those living with disabilities. 


Volunteers are the driving force behind the NSCD. Over 1,400 volunteers donate more 40,000 hours annually as they make skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, and learning new sport skills a reality for NSCD athletes. Volunteers help athletes experience the power of play and the thrill of trying something new as they redefine what their future can look like. If the thought of being a part of such transformative experiences speaks to you, hop online and start the process of becoming a volunteer today. And rest easy--volunteers receive extensive training in whatever area they choose to volunteer, so they start prepared and confident, ready to share their passion with new friends!


Now that you've had a glimpse into the beauty of the work the NSCD does, if you're anything like us, you're likely wondering how you can support their mission! The RethinkAbility Vertical Feet Ski Challenge is happening right now! Pick a day to hit the slopes at Winter Park Resort anytime between now and February 10th (as if you needed another reason to take advantage of the 200+ inches of snow we already have this winter!) and sign up to participate in this event that raises awareness and funds for the NSCD. Participants pay a registration fee, raise funds to support the cause, and compete to ski the most vertical feet in a day. Getting to skip the lift lines for the day is just an added bonus! 

The Wells Fargo Ski Cup will host its 47th annual event at Winter Park Resort this March. The longest running professional ski race in the country serves as a signature fundraiser for the NSCD. You can volunteer to work the event or support it by purchasing credentials or becoming a corporate sponsor

And you can always donate financially to support NSCD's mission and work in bringing outdoor adventure into the lives of those with disabilities We are grateful for their relentless pursuit to find the everyone's "ability" right out our back door

Posted by Angela McDonough (Sandstrom) on


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