We are excited to introduce you to the newest program staff who will be greeting you this winter at BOEC’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program office in Breckenridge and at the Keystone Adaptive Center.  Gardner, Malia, Lindsay and Austin are no strangers to the BOEC in fact, three of them are graduates of the BOEC Internship Program and all four of them have returned to take on their new roles with added experience in both the winter and summer programs at the BOEC.  We asked them to share a bit about themselves as we get this winter season underway so read on to see just how incredible each of them are!

Gardner Popp – Volunteer Coordinator

What is your best memory of BOEC so far?

Picking one memory from the past three years with BOEC is difficult. I have been so grateful for the space that BOEC provides to create lasting relationships with all the individuals that I have interacted with. Rafting overnight trips down the Colorado river with veterans, listening to elk bugle calls with participants with visual impairments in Rocky Mountain National Park, and eating authentic, homemade New Orleans gumbo with a group of monoskiers after a hard day of riding on the hill, are a few that come to mind.

One specific memory that stands out above the rest is the three days I spent with Paul Gertin, a skier from Canada who has lost 99% of his vision. When first assigned to this lesson, I was intimidated by Paul’s extensive file of advanced skiing at many mountains, specifically at the Breckenridge Ski Resort. Immediately after meeting Paul, he mentioned that he wanted his first day to be spent doing “warm-up” runs on Peak 10, which consists of mainly black diamond terrain. I knew then that these would be some of the most memorable days of my instructing career to date. The bond that Paul and I were able to create is indescribable. Over our time together, we built enough comfort and trust that we explored all 5 peaks together and even skied bowls under the Imperial chair. Paul was able to teach me so much on a personal and professional level and I will always remember this time as a milestone in my VI guiding.

Gardner and BOEC Volunteer set out on laps of Peak 10.

Top of Imperial Bowl!

What most excites you about the Volunteer Coordinator position? What motivated you to take the next steps to be in this role?

After instructing for three years, I look forward to serving the BOEC in a different role. The logistical side of this organization has always intrigued me, and I am excited to be a part of it moving forward. I was motivated to take on this role because I am constantly inspired by the extensive amount of time volunteers give to this organization. As a previous instructor, I can personally attest to the help and benefit volunteers provide for every ski lesson, on and off the hill. I hope to continue the relationships I have already built with a handful of volunteers and build more as I work one-on-one with every volunteer that steps into the office.

Gardner and Paul enjoying the bluebird day.

A smiling Gardner ready for the 2022 ski season.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!

I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. I graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Behavior specializing in Community Health Promotion. I fell in love with adaptive sports during my college years in Gainesville through volunteer days at a local school that serves students with intellectual disabilities and an internship with an adaptive gymnastics’ gym. Halfway through that internship, I knew my passion for this field was only beginning and upon completion, in 2019, I accepted the BOEC winter internship.

Lindsay Riggs – Ski Program Supervisor, Breckenridge Office 

What is your best memory of BOEC so far? 

My favorite memory from instructing for the BOEC consists of funky dance moves from top to bottom of Copper Mountain and snowball fights and imaginative games up the chairlift. All these wild games came into existence because of Maddy, a ten-year-old girl with down syndrome. I love her unique perspective of the world and how bright her personality shines through every second of the day. I enjoyed being her instructor over the years and seeing her growth in ski ability.

Lindsay free skiing at Aspen during the DAV Winter Sports Clinic March 2022

Lindsay and her peers enjoy the last day of skiing at Breck in 2022 (LtoR: Katie, Lindsay, Gardner and Jeff)

What most excites you about your new role with the ski program? What motivated you to take the next steps to be in this role? What do you hope to contribute to the program this winter?

I am most excited to get the opportunity to help train the interns and staff, as well as learn from them as the Breckenridge Ski Program Supervisor. As a previous intern and staff member myself, I will always remember the influential superiors I had and worked with and will utilize the information they taught me. I hope to become an asset to the winter program, just as I view all my peers.

Tell us a bit more about yourself! 

I’m from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. I graduated from SUNY Cortland in 2019 with a bachelors in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Environmental and Outdoor Education. I dedicated 20 years of my life to the sport of gymnastics and always wondered what my next long-term life chapter would be. Once I began the winter internship in 2019, I immediately knew the BOEC was my next outlet to dedicate my heart and soul to. I believe the outdoors is an essential component in everyone’s life. The BOEC offers an endless number of opportunities for people of all abilities to build their own unique therapeutic relationships with nature. Following the winter internship, I continued to become a course director for the summer program in 2021. I look forward to continuing my own personal growth within the BOEC, as well as contributing to the program’s overall success.

Lindsay showing off her gymnastics talent with the Hawaii coastline below.

Lindsay enjoying some California sun after ski season May 2022.

Austin Brockley – Keystone Adaptive Center Supervisor

What is your best memory of BOEC so far?

My favorite memory of the BOEC was on a Heroic Military Program veteran’s river trip. We had just finished a three-day flat-water section on the Colorado River and were getting ready to be guided down the whitewater section called Westwater. The veterans were very excited, and we managed to get through about 10 of the 11 big rapids on this section without anyone falling out. At the last rapid we came in sideways and ended up flipping. All passengers and gear were out of the boat and the boat was flipped upside down. After scrambling to make sure everyone was safe, we eventually got everyone back in but not until after one vet had a long swim. After everyone was safe, we had a good laugh about it. It was after this exciting experience that I knew I wanted to be a raft guide.

Austin rafting the Colorado River with a BOEC Heroic Military group summer 2022.

What most excites you about your new role with the ski program? What motivated you to take the next steps to be in this role? What do you hope to contribute to the program this winter?

What most excites me about my new role as supervisor of the Keystone Adaptive Center is that I get more responsibility and get a be a resource for the new interns. As an intern I loved learning about all the new adaptive equipment and teaching techniques. Now that I get to be on the other side of that, I couldn’t be more excited. Gaining this new roll was the natural progression for me. I had been applying for this exact position ever since I was an intern and now, I finally have the knowledge and experience to do it successfully. I am motivated by helping people and being active, which is another reason why this is the perfect job for me. I have big plans to ultimately expand the Keystone Adaptive Center, but for now I just hope to continue to provide fulfilling adaptive experiences and keep everyone safe.

Sit ski training for Austin during Intern Training. Solo photo with bi-skier. Caption: Austin tethering a young Bi-Skier at Keystone.

Austin tethering a young Bi-Skier at Keystone.

Tell us a bit more about yourself! 

I grew up in Brooklyn NY but always had a love for the outdoors. I have always been an easy-going guy that is passionate about adaptive sports. School was never something that came easily to me because of my IEP. Once I found out that doing what you loved is the most important part of maintaining happiness, I knew I wanted to be involved in adaptive sports. Helping people discover that they can do more than they thought possible is what keeps me in this line of work.

Malia Michel – Keystone Adaptive Center Coordinator 

What is your best memory of BOEC so far? 

Last season as an instructor at the BOEC, one lesson in particular stands out. I taught a never-ever lesson to a little boy with hemiplegia which is defined as a symptom that involves one-sided paralysis. It was an incredible experience to introduce him to the sensation of skiing for the very first time. Towards the end of the week, I was able to tether him down Silverthorne, a green run at Peak 9. The freedom of movement that skiing offered him and seeing the ah-ha moments as he progressed in his ability was a precious memory that I will always fondly remember. His parents even switched their flights so he could ski one extra day with me.

Malia and her dad Michael skiing together at Winter Park last winter – on a powder day!

Enjoying some beautiful wildflowers while hiking Mount Yale summer 2022.

What most excites you about your new role with the ski program? What motivated you to take the next steps to be in this role? What do you hope to contribute to the program this winter?

As a professional adaptive ski and snowboard instructor, I have found my passion of helping others reach their goals of sliding on snow in whatever mode of transportation they desire. Stepping into this leadership role will allow me to help even more people attain that goal and have a larger impact on the families and guests that pass through the doors of our organization. I hope to contribute my best efforts to help the BOEC continue to meet its mission and help participants find healing through exceptional outdoor recreation experiences.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a Colorado native who grew up on a farm in Northeastern Colorado where I developed a profound love of the outdoors. I went to Colorado State University and gained degrees in Natural Resource Recreation & Tourism, Business Administration with a Corporate Finance concentration and continued to attain my Masters in Tourism Management. Last season I was an instructor for the BOEC, previously I taught at Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) and interned at Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS). Most recently I spent the summer teaching adaptive recreation for the City of Fort Collins Adaptive Recreation Operations (ARO) program. I have found my passion in Adaptive Sports and intend to make a career in this industry. When I am not on snow, I love to scuba dive or hike one of the many 14ers in Colorado.

It is clear that this group of amazing young professionals have the passion, heart, education and training to be the very best at whatever they choose to do and we feel very fortunate to have them as part of the BOEC family. Welcome to the team Gardner, Lindsay, Malia and Austin … enjoy the season like never before!