Staff, interns, and volunteers at the end of season party.

Staff, interns, and volunteers at the end of season party.

BOEC’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program brought excitement, smiles, and a sense of wonder to those of all abilities through winter sports this season. This took the collaboration and dedication of numerous instructors, volunteers, and interns, teaching close to 3,000 ski, snowboard, and Nordic ski lessons using a variety of equipment and adaptations. Over the course of the 2023-24 season, 1,015 participants were out on the snow at Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain resorts with BOEC.

It was a busy winter kicking off with The Hartford’s Ski Spectacular, one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for people with disabilities in December. We were glad to serve our long-time friends at Fox Valley Special Recreation Association, The Not Forgotten, the Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado, Adaptive Adventures and Team Semper Fi & America’s Fund among numerous other groups who returned to ski with BOEC. Wilderness Program camps serving those looking to improve their mono skiing skills and for those with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis also enjoyed time out on the mountain and at the Scott Griffith Lodge for a true mountain retreat. 

BOEC Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program Director, Jeff Inouye, shares his sentiments, “The Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program had a very successful 2023-24 winter season.  I’d like to thank all the staff, instructors, interns, and volunteers who all contributed to creating life-changing experiences for our participants and their families. This winter we had 15 fantastic interns who worked extremely hard and continue to be a huge asset to the BOEC and the ski program.  At the end of March, we held our Volunteer Appreciation Party to celebrate the success of the ski program and most importantly to recognize and thank the more than 300 incredible volunteers who gave their valuable time to our program as well as our staff who all dedicate so much to the BOEC.”

In recognition of the significant contributions of staff, volunteers and interns serving those hailing from diverse backgrounds and possessing a range of abilities, BOEC recently recognized their efforts at the annual end-of-year volunteer and staff celebration barbecue. Two Volunteer of the Year awards, three Rookie of the Year awards, and one Instructor of the Year award were awarded to deserving recipients. Given the exceptional caliber of volunteers, instructors, and interns who dedicated countless hours to the Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program, selecting the most outstanding individuals was certainly challenging. The recipients honored this year embody the spirit of the BOEC family and represent the pinnacle of dedication, leaving behind cherished memories that underscore the pride we take in our mission.

Volunteer of the Year

  • Pita Catt
  • Trevor Jackson

Rookie of the Year

  • Nick Fuller
  • Sydni Sansom
  • Arnie Dickinson

Instructor of the Year

  • Carlo Jimenez-Vazquez
Sydni, Carlos, Gardner, Pita and Trevor

Sydni, Carlos, Gardner, Pita and Trevor

Here are their memories of the season.

Pita Catt, 2023-24 Volunteer of the Year

“I am honoured to share the BOEC volunteer of the year award with my DISTINGUISHED housemate, Trevor Jackson.  For me, it is impossible to identify one singular BOEC lesson or  experience as more memorable or favourable than another. 

Memorable lesson experiences have ranged from assisting a young boy to use his own muscles and carry his own weight which resulted in his completion of 15 afternoon laps of the magic carpet – a record for ANYONE; to skiing with a young chap, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of fire extinguishers.  Whilst that lesson resulted in some undoubtedly improved turns, the key achievement was our finding that Keystone’s fire extinguishers across all three peaks were generally “fire code” compliant.  (Special thanks to Keystone Ski Patrol who gave us hut access and for their  general tolerance.)

The commonality across my lessons was the amazing people involved – the students, my fellow BOEC volunteers, interns and staff – all of whom were uniquely humbling and inspiring – each displaying brilliant attitudes, resilience, tolerance, resourcefulness and adaptability.  

For me it is THIS element of my 2024 lessons, which is the most memorable and will  keep me coming back to the BOEC year after year. 

BOEC, it’s been an honour!” 

Trevor riding at Vail Ski Resort

Trevor riding at Vail Ski Resort

Trevor Jackson, 2023-24 Volunteer of the Year

“Volunteering at the BOEC has become such an integral and enjoyable part of my winter visits to Breckenridge and it’s an honour to be the volunteer of the year together with my housemate Pita, thank you!

My most memorable lesson of this season was with an 11 year old, double above the knee amputee lad. The afternoon before he had struggled to snowboard in his prosthetics because they kept “locking out”. The instructor; Ryley R, had suggested trying to ride without them and ride on his stumps. Ryley went about adapting a pair of boots and MacGyvering the bindings to give more support to the boots. Walking in rather large boots and getting on and off the lift was a challenge, but the boy took to snowboarding instantly in this new set up! By the afternoon he was linking turns down the Ballet Hill ….. an achievement most beginner snowboarders don’t manage!

This type of lesson typifies the adaptive ski program for me, adapting the equipment and the lesson to meet the students’ abilities and needs to give them the best possible time in the mountains and on snow.

Myself, Ryley, and the student had one awesome day, one we will all remember for some time.”

Sydni Sansom, 2023-24 Rookie of the Year

“It’s been an amazing experience and I will definitely be coming back year after year.

My favorite memory was probably getting to ski with a visually impaired skier on Christmas Day. It was her first time skiing in many years and it was so fun getting to witness her joy. She described feeling so free on the mountain (not having to use her cane and getting to move at such high speeds). I love being part of the team that makes these kinds of beautiful experiences accessible for people! 

I really had no idea how much fun it would be to volunteer with BOEC when I initially signed up, but it really is like being part of someone’s Disney World.”

Arnold Dickinson, 2023-24 Rookie of the Year

“I finally achieved rookie status at 71!  All the instructors, interns, staff, and volunteers I had the privilege of working with at BOEC are awesome.  Learning was continuous throughout the season and the knowledge I gained from the instructors is invaluable. The season was incredibly rewarding in many ways, but the hugs, smiles, and thanks at the end of a lesson from students and parents is the ultimate reward.  Your heart swells and it’s very tough to keep from tearing up sometimes.”

Nick enjoying a summer hike in Summit County.

Nick Fuller, 2023-24 Rookie of the Year

“This past year has been immensely rewarding on multiple fronts, making it challenging to single out a specific event as more significant than others. Each interaction I’ve had with BOEC has filled me with immense joy, underscoring my privilege in contributing to such a distinguished organization. Among the myriad memories, one thing that stands out prominently is the collective of exceptional interns and staff members who serve as the cornerstone of this organization, fostering an environment where students can partake in life-changing experiences. One particular moment that resonated deeply with me involved overhearing two interns sharing a student’s sentiment, capturing the essence of their experience: “…I just love coming here because I feel like a normal person when I ski…”  Being part of a team that orchestrates moments of joy and autonomy for these individuals is a memory that will endure in my heart for years to come.”

Carlos teaching an adaptive ski lesson to Wheelchairs for Kids.

Carlos teaching an adaptive ski lesson to Wheelchairs for Kids.

Carlos Jimenez-Vazquez, 2023-24 Willie Whalen Instructor of the Year

“My favorite BOEC memory of the season would have to be Ullr Fest. The combination of working The Hartford Ski Spectacular and having our BOEC truck floating down main street was such a blast! Perfect example of work hard play hard. Loved all the energy and excitement that comes out from our little BOEC family and the rest of our Breckenridge community.”

Thanks to every person who made the BOEC 2023-24 winter season successful! Whether a participant or part of the BOEC, we each take these special memories with us and although the impact of a day out on the mountain is not always immediately evident, the positive effects can be long-lasting. As one participant from The Not Forgotten veteran’s group put it, “I am in awe of what I’ve achieved. This trip has given me more than I can explain. I now believe in myself, my fears are diminishing, my trust in myself has grown, and I’m starting to like me again.”