Golf tourney aids Challenge Aspen |

Golf tourney aids Challenge Aspen

Scott Schlafer
Special to The Aspen Times
Houston Cowan alongside Andrew Sinclair and his daughter Olivia.
Scott Schlafer/Special to The Aspen Times |

The 10th annual Vince Gill and Amy Grant Golf Classic teed off Tuesday morning with all proceeds benefiting Challenge Aspen. The charitable event was successful in raising a reported $500,000 more than the initial targeted amount.

Challenge Aspen incorporates a large variety of people with special needs ranging from mental disabilities to wounded military veterans. As part of the Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities program, former Army Special Forces 1st Lt. Brian Donarski competed in the golf tournament. He said golf and Challenge Aspen have saved his life by steering him into a better direction.

“Because of Challenge Aspen, I chose a new direction in life to help out wounded soldiers and other service members and their families that went through the trials and tribulations that I have,” Donarski said. “If it wasn’t for Challenge Aspen, I know by the grace of God that I would have chosen a different direction and ended up becoming another unfortunate statistic.”

After suffering through his abundance of serious injuries, Donarski said it was very hard to find the motivation to persevere and continue living.

“On Oct. 21, 2006, in Iraq, they tried to assassinate me when I was carrying 7,200 gallons of fuel. I woke up paralyzed on the right side, severely injured back, ripped shoulders, and I lost vision out of my right eye,” Donarski said. “I spent 13 months at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center), where I had to learn to walk and talk all over again.”

According to doctors, Donarski should have been paralyzed from about an inch below his Adam’s apple.

Aside from golf and Challenge Aspen, Donarksi said the only reasons he wakes up and pushes every day are his daughters, McKenzi and Maya. Now 45, Donarski continues promoting the many causes of Challenge Aspen while improving his golf game (which is already quite impressive). He is one of the hundreds of wounded soldiers who benefit from Challenge Aspen.

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