Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Thomas Garcia
Staff Writer 

Group dedicates day to disabled vets

The program provided a weekend of kayaking, swimming, fishing with families, caretakers.


August 9, 2017

Thomas Garcia

Bob Pierce of Albuquerque paddles along the shore in a specialized kayak designed not to tip over as his dog Babe swims besides him Saturday at Ute Lake State Park in Logan.

An annual water sports camp gave disabled veterans, individuals and their families a chance to enjoy a weekend at Ute Lake State Park in Logan featuring recreation, camping and camaraderie.

Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico's goal is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities through forms of recreation, said Jason Cline, director of operations.

Cline said the event, in its fourth year at Ute Lake State Park, was created to give disabled veterans, their families or caretakers a weekend of skiing, kayaking, swimming and fishing. He said the different activities feature specialized equipment for each individuals' disabilities.

"It's wonderful, it gives us a chance to simply have fun and leave our struggles with disabilities behind us for a weekend," said Gretchen Rieck of Albuquerque.

Rieck, a disabled veteran, said she likes to kayak, but while on a different outing she struggled to haul the kayak and equipment and hated that the outing leader didn't take her disability into consideration.

"I do not have that issue here," Rieck said. "Here I have the chance to socialize with people who understand my struggles. This is my fourth time attending the event, (and) I look forward to (it) every year. "

"The highlight of the weekend is being around such supportive people, who understand and share in your day to day life with disabilities," said Jim Hungerford of Albuquerque.

Hungerford said he knows Rieck from the Veterans Administration in Albuquerque. He said the two have spoken several times at the VA, where he learned from her about the event.

"The people are what makes this event so special," Hungerford said. "While you are here you are not disabled. You are camping, boating and spending time with friends."

The various equipment is provided by Adaptive Sports out of Lakewood Colorado.

Adaptive Sports works with 100 different companies to provide equipment for programs benefiting disabled veterans and their families said Chelsea Elder, coordinator.

Cline said the event is free of cost to the disabled veterans, thought family members or caretakers are charged a small fee. He said a there is a fee for disabled individuals who are not veterans, but like charge for family members the company attempts to keep it as low as possible.

"This is a non-profit program," Cline said, "so we depend a lot on donations and fees to continue operations."

Cline said the programs owes a lot of thanks to the communities of Logan, Clovis, Santa Fe and Albuquerque for providing volunteers, supplies and donations that allow the program to help as many disabled veterans and families as it can.

Cline said during the weekend, the Logan-Ute Lake Chamber of Commerce provided a lasagna meal for the campers to enjoy. He said later a fish fry and movie night is planed for the campers.

"I truly cannot say enough about the volunteers, organizations and communities who support this program," Cline said. "We hope that word of this event spreads to people around the area, region and state. It is our goal to help as many people as we can through recreation."

For more information about the event, upcoming events or to make a donation you can visit http://www.adaptivesportsprogram.org


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