The staff and volunteers at Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra don’t give up.
You’ve probably heard that before, but we really mean it. When a quadriplegic man attached to a battery-packed medical ventilator came in and said he wanted to go skiing, the team said yes, we’ll find a way to make it work.
“He wasn’t going to quit, so neither were we,” said Kathy Copeland, the Executive Director of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. “His smile… his tears… just that thrill. There is something magical about these mountains that are so healing.”
See the dedication of this organization for yourself — from start to finish on a beautiful snowy day in Mammoth Lakes, CA (the future home of the National Wounded Warrior Center).
Blue skies and fresh snow set the perfect scene for wounded, ill and injured military athletes to face on-snow challenges during the 13th annual Wounded Warrior Operation Mountain Freedom, a Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra winter program for adaptive military athletes.
But the program is much more than adaptive skiing — Operation Mountain Freedom enables American veterans with disabilities to conquer their fears, learn new skills, make new friends, and be honored by the community for their service and sacrifices.
Among the veterans at this year’s program was Corporal Roy Cratty. Roy and his wife, Carole, have been involved with Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra for years. Roy served in the Korean War, often called the “forgotten war” for how its heroes were treated when they returned home. He has dealt with PTSD for decades.
This past fall, Roy and Carole lost their home — and Roy’s Purple Heart — in the Paradise Fire in California. The organizers of Operation Mountain Freedom found a way to have the military decoration reissued to Roy during the last day of the program.
The Purple Heart was presented by the commanding officer at the U.S. Marines’ Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickel Meadows, which is just north of Mammoth Lakes (the future home of the National Wounded Warrior Center). In the 1950s, Roy was part of the very first class at Pickel Meadows.
Roy and Carole stood together on stage to receive his new Purple Heart. After the ceremony, Roy had four words for the news reporters who were there: “Honored. Humble. Stunned. Appreciative.”
You can see Roy at Operation Mountain Freedom in this video starting at 2:09.
We are moving forward, full steam ahead with our plans for the National Wounded Warrior Center! Kathy and the team are busy seeking dedicated patrons to sponsor a bedroom, dedicate a wing, offer in-kind services or provide naming rights, so that we can offer Wounded Warriors what they need to LEARN a new vocation, HEAL physical and psychological wounds, and THRIVE in their new life! We are proud to introduce our new Director of Communications and Advisory Board!