This weekend, 25 veterans will hit the slopes in Whitefish courtesy of an organization that focuses on enhancing the quality of life for those with disabilities.
DREAM Adaptive Recreation will host the second of three Military Ski programs, which provide free lessons, equipment, and a lift ticket to veterans with a disability.
One of those taking part will be paraplegic U.S. Navy veteran Austin Reese moved to Montana from Virginia last summer to follow his passion for skiing and this will be his first time participating with Dream Adaptive.
“I just learned how to ski last year and I had the opportunity through meeting Julie Tickle with Dream Adaptive, she said hey come on out for one of our military weekends, and I sad that sounds like a lot of fun," Reese said. "Anytime you’re able to get up on the mountain and ski is amazing.”
Reese was active in the U.S. Navy for 14 years stationed in Virginia including three deployments in Iraq. He primarily dealt with disarming improvised explosive devices and teaching military classes on jumping out of airplanes.
Reese -- who became paralyzed during a skydiving accident -- said the sensation of skiing motivates him to stay active and always reach for new goals.
“You never know what you’re going to be able to do or not be able to do, and I had looked for a long time at doing some of the things I used to do," said Reese. "After I learned how to ski last year it felt kind of like a different sensation, but feeling like I was able to do the same things I did before I got hurt.”
DREAM Adaptive’s final Military Veteran ski weekend takes place on March 21 and March 22. The event fills up quickly so sign up soon if you wish to participate or volunteer.