Paralympic Sport coming to Durango

Club to be geared toward those with physical, visual disabilities

The Adaptive Sports Association and U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, have partnered to create Paralympic Sport – Durango.

Paralympic Sport – Durango is a community-based sports club developed to involve youths and adults – including active-duty service members and veterans – with physical and visual disabilities in ongoing sports and physical activity, regardless of skill level. All programs and activities will be based in the Durango area and run by Adaptive Sports.

The idea is to build programs that can help nurture young athletes who show potential and possibly help them to become future paralympians, said Tim Kroes, executive director of Adaptive Sports

“This is a special opportunity, and we are sincerely honored to be selected by the U.S. Paralympics to partner on this valuable project,” Kroes said. “Together we will be able to better serve the Durango and Southwest Colorado disability community.”

Because Paralympic Sport – Durango is new, Kroes said, there is still a lot of flexibility in terms of how the programs will work.

The main goal is to help athletic people with disabilities advance in sports by creating a network of supportive programs around the country, he said.

Alana Nichols, originally from Farmington, participated in the adaptive skiing program before becoming the top medal winner for Team USA at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and British Columbia.

“She had to really pursue that all on her own,” Kroes said. “We taught the basics of teaching her how to ski, but we didn’t really hold her hand through the process of being a competitor.”

Paralympic Sport – Durango and other similar programs across the country intend to help natural athletes such as Nichols through each step of the competitive process, so more of them can reach their full potential, Kroes said.

As a nonprofit organization, Adaptive Sports Association has been offering sports and outdoor recreational opportunities in Southwest Colorado for 28 years.

The organization attracts participants from around the country but maintains a focus on the Durango area and the Four Corners. With 21 million Americans living with a physical or visual disability, including thousands of military personnel who have been severely injured while on active duty, this is an important community need, Kroes said.

“U.S. Paralympics is dedicated to creating opportunities for individuals with physical and visual disabilities to be physically active in their own communities,” said Mike Mushett, U.S. Paralympics director of community programs. “Participation in physical activity enhances not only self-esteem and peer relationships, but also results in greater achievement, better overall health and higher quality of life,” he said.

ASA expects paralympic sport clubs soon will be located in all 50 states in the United States.