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Vice President Biden to take part in disabled vets’ event at Snowmass

Madeleine Osberger
Snowmass correspondent
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Vice President Joe Biden will participate in activities surrounding the 25th annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic March 27-April 1 in Snowmass Village, his press office confirmed Friday.

The vice president, who is residing in a private home on the edge of the Village, will stay until Monday, according to the White House press office. The visit has been billed as a family ski vacation, and confirmation of Biden’s participation with the veterans came late in the week.

Though rumored for days, news of the vice president’s inclusion came as a happy surprise to the director and founder of the winter sports clinic, Sandy Trombetta, who said he would love to have Biden attend Sunday’s opening ceremonies where the 400 or so veterans mingle over a casual dinner on the Snowmass Mall.

“Then the next day, I’d get him up on that damn mountain to see what these vets are doing,” Trombetta added.

What the disabled veterans of past and current wars are doing is stretching their own limits to alpine and Nordic ski, play sled hockey, tackle a climbing wall, enjoy dog sled rides and shoot some hoops. More than half of the attendees, who range in age from 18 to older than 80, are in wheelchairs; visual impairments, amputations and mental disabilities are also common in the group.

Many who come to Snowmass are newly injured and are venturing into action sports for the first time since suffering an injury.

Another luminary taking part in this 25th annual veterans event is former U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “who has no role except to be there [for moral support] with the vets,” according to Trombetta. Actress Bo Derek, the daughter of a veteran, will also return for a meet-and-greet event that’s typically one of the week’s highlights.

“Our men and women just love her. She gets in the middle of it all,” Trombetta said of the star of the movie “10.”

Derek’s significant other, actor John Corbett (best known for his roles on “Northern Exposure” and “Sex and the City”) will also attend.

Entertainment will be provided by singer Chubby Checker on Wednesday and country-western musician Craig Morgan on Thursday.

But it’s Vice President Biden, whose son Beau served as a captain in the 261st Signal Brigade in Iraq for almost a year, that’s expected to provide the most star power.

“He’s one tough guy,” Trombetta said of the vice president. “I like a lot of things about him,” not the least of which is Biden’s empathy for military families.

Merchants on the Snowmass Mall have been keeping their eyes peeled for a Biden sighting. When former Vice President Al Gore visited Snowmass Village during the 1990s, he rented his gear from Incline Sports. The Secret Service detail surrounding former President Jimmy Carter’s local visit also patronized the shop.

The store’s managing partner, John Henschel, said Friday he hadn’t been contacted about providing any equipment for Biden or his entourage.

“But the doors are always open for any president, vice president or royalty,” Henschel said with a laugh.

Founded on a shoestring at the Powderhorn ski area near Grand Junction in 1987, the National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic now provides more than 1,200 ski lessons during the week to the former servicemen and women who pay their transportation and lodging costs to Snowmass.

While it was truly a struggle to raise the $50,000 needed for the inaugural year, sponsors and private donations now adequately cover the winter sports clinic’s $400,000 annual budget, Trombetta said.

mosberger@snowmasssun.com


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