April 16, 2014 / Comments (0)

Troops Triumph gets injured vets out on the mountain for fresh air and fun

The third annual Troops Triumph day went off Sunday, April 13 at Timberline with perfect Mount Hood spring conditions and lots of smiles from the veterans who participated.

Troops Triumph 2014 welcomed 16 military veterans with injuries ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to amputated limbs. The participants were paired up based on their needs with teams of instructors, adaptive skiing specialists and blockers charged with preventing collisions.

It was sunny and clear all day, and the veterans heard plenty of encouragement on the slopes, on the lifts and in the lift lines.

Troops Triumph chair Pat Heffron said this year’s event was a big success. “It was just a kick in the pants. The weather couldn’t have been better, and everyone had a great time out there.”

Heffron shared a letter from Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran JD Southall, who thanked all the event volunteers and offered high praise for his adaptive instructor Deidre Gestrin. “Deidre was quickly able to ascertain how my injuries impacted my ability to ski,” Southall wrote. “She also was very compassionate with me towards my frustration of my limitations. Deidre has an innate ability to help those with both emotional and physical injuries.”

Heffron, a PSIA Level 3 skiing and snowboarding instructor at Timberline, decided to launch the event several years ago as a way to get more Mount Hood access for disabled veterans in the Portland area, to give vets a chance to get out and try something new.

The idea is to build on the legacy and work of Lee Perry and other Mount Hood adaptive skiing pioneers, to revive programs that have come and gone. “People have moved on and programs have fizzled, but the need is still enormous,” says Heffron.

Organizers plan to hold another Troops Triumph event in 2015, and beyond that they have hopes to build a new season-long adaptive program on Mount Hood.

“The bigger our little event gets, the more support we are going to get for a new program,” says Heffron.


Last modified: April 16, 2014

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