In February 2015, three students from the university’s Division of Physical Therapy volunteered with the 11th annual Wounded Warriors Weekend, hosted by Wintergreen Adaptive Sports (WAS). Welcoming 34 combat-injured servicemen and servicewomen for a weekend of snow sports instruction, camaraderie, and rest and relaxation, WAS also hosted an additional 57 family members and caregivers during the three-day event.
Physical therapy graduate students Samantha Butrym ’14, Krista Eskay and Nicolas Hoover ’10 were among more than 50 volunteer instructors who provided adaptive ski and snowboard instruction for the honored guests and their families.
“I have always been an avid supporter of our military service men and women, and I saw a great opportunity to give back to them and serve them to show appreciation for all of their hard work and sacrifice to protect us,” said Hoover.
“The most memorable part, for me, was having a soldier shake my hand and thank me for pursuing a career in PT,” Hoover continued. “He told me that we were doing a great thing by choosing a path where we can make a difference for so many other people. It was very special to receive that kind of compliment when I was really there to show my appreciation for him.”
“I learned that kids can fall and twist in ways that would require surgical correction for most adults, and they can laugh and have fun while doing it,” said Hoover. “I also learned that all of my technical knowledge about snowboarding is better left unsaid. As long as the lesson is fun for the kids, they’ll fall in love with it. Parents are extremely grateful when you make a whole day fun for their kids and bring them back exhausted but ready to have more fun the next day.”
The WAS Wounded Warriors Weekend is part of the WAS snow sports program, which runs from mid-December to mid-March, during which time adaptive snow sports instruction is offered seven days a week to persons of all ages with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Established as an independent non-profit organization in 1995, WAS also offers a summer adaptive canoeing and kayaking program from June through September.