Sierra Cycle Challenge benefiting Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra is July 23rd – 25th.
Hello Friends and Family of Hilary and Tom
Thank you all for supporting the Sierra Cycle Challenge in past years. Without contributions from our generous donors, the Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) programs would not have grown to what they are today.
Another year has gone by, and we are again doing the 150 mile Sierra Cycle Challenge in support of DSES. We have just finished 2 weeks of fun grandchildren summer camp and need to get serious about training for the ride and launching our fund raising efforts. We are woefully behind on both topics.
2015/2016 Activities of Hilary and Tom
Here is a quick look at our year in Mammoth:
- We lived ~7 great months of year 4 in our Mammoth house. It was fun for us to host those of you who made it to Mammoth this year, and would love to host others in the coming year.
- Our house in Palo Alto is very lonely, as we spent less than 3 months there. We continue to be very happy in Mammoth, and with our allocation of time.
- Together we volunteered over 700 hours to DSES programs in the past year.
- Our time in Palo Alto is always great, but we cut short our time there by enjoying a month long trip to Polynesia with several of you last August, two weeks in Israel in April (organized by Jack and Leslie), a week in Germany with Coqui's and Steinbrink's, a week in Philadelphia and NYC, and two weeks in Kauai with our daughter Valeska and her children. The year went by quickly!
- Hilary recovered from much of her knee problems and was able to be more active in Nordic skiing. At Disabled Sports, in addition to Nordic skiing, Hilary focused on organizing the preparation of about 30 DSES meals for 50+ people and managing student registration and records. She won the award for Excellence in Volunteerism to recognize her work.
- Tom focused on engaging students rather than seeking more ski instructor certifications. He provided lessons and great outdoor experiences for dozens of students with a wide range of cognitive and physical disabilities - children, wounded warriors, and older adults. Tom skied over 100 days (including a few free-ski days).
- We continue to be known as the "Mammoth Party House" for hosting many disabled sports volunteer parties for up to 100 people each time. Everyone seems to enjoy the parties, we love to host them, and it only takes a couple of days for us to recover after each one.
- A personal highlight of the winter was hosting a 17 person week-long 80th birthday party celebration for Ed Kramer in March. We were all thrilled to have Helmuth Coqui (who also recently turned 80) travel all the way from Munich to join the party. Ed, Helmuth, and Wendl Thomas all enjoyed the benefits of their maturity by skiing for free on their 80+ free passes from Mammoth Mountain. Great week!
- Our grand children were with us for a total of about 6 weeks again this year. Four of the five, ages 8-14, are all great and enthusiastic skiers, sledders, campers, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, explorers, paddlers, swimmers, fishermen, zip liners, bungee jumpers, rock climbers, and kids (or teenager). It is a joy to have them with us. Four year old, Hannah, started skiing more last winter and will be the focus of next winter's skiing as she turns 5 in January.
- There are some links to photos below from our recent years' disabled sports activities.
2015/2016 Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Activities
It was also a great year for the regular lesson program and the special events we supported; e.g.:
- The snow was great (361 inches) and the year saw the highest ever annual volume of student lessons (over 3000 winter lessons). 47% of the lessons were funded through contributions many of you have made. The range of students is from 4 year old kids with autism to disabled 85+ year-olds who still want to experience the thrill of screaming down the mountain. For those of you who like data, the mix is about 50% cognitive issues (majority of which is autism), >20% wounded warriors (mostly PTSD and traumatic brain injury), and the remainder is a mix of physical and physical/cognitive disabilities across a wide range.
- Both a winter and summer Wounded Warrior camp was held to serve ~80 veterans (from WWII to the Afghan war), and their families. Numerous Wounded Warriors also participated in other events and enjoyed private lessons/experiences in many sports.
Other special camps included:
- Alpine Race Camp
- Monoski Madness Camp
- Nordic Camp
- Biathlon Camp
- Weekly Ski PE for several area schools (10% of total lessons).
- The year included successful participation by disabled Mammoth athletes in organized competitive paralympic events
- Summer camping, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, cycling, swimming, and other events
- And other activities too numerous to list
National Wounded Warrior Center Activities
Additional work has been done on the proposed National Wounded Warrior Center (NWWC) in Mammoth (final name still TBD). Tom agreed to lead a committee working on the development of a "program plan" to define the activities and services associated with the Center. The Program Planning Committee is made up of DSES volunteers, DSES staff, non-profit/education/government/business partners, physical and mental healthcare professionals, national veteran education and healthcare professionals, veteran advocacy groups, the VA/DoD, and other skilled individuals from the Eastern Sierra and around the country.
The intent of the initiative is to enable veterans with disabilities to stay longer in Mammoth and to create educational, vocational readiness, paralympic, rehabilitation, and wellness counseling opportunities. These activities will be complemented by recreational rehabilitation therapy in the mountains to help the veterans with disabilities to successfully reenter civilian life.
A soft launch of fund raising was started in 2015 and raised approximately $2.3 million dollars, or 10% of the targeted amount to establish the Center. Simultaneously, a more aggressive capital campaign infrastructure has been established. Fund raising discussions are proceeding with potential large donors in Southern California to form the platform for the launch of a broader capital campaign by the end of 2016. The work is being strongly supported by the VA, DoD, Patriot Initiative, a plethora of Eastern Sierra partners, and other regional and national organizations. The initiative is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project which received bad press earlier this year related to their fund raising practices and excessive overhead spending.
The Sierra Cycle Challenge is primarily focused on raising funds for the on-going DSES programs. However, if you would like to direct a Sierra Cycle Challenge contribution toward the National Wounded Warrior Center specifically (rather than the on-going Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra programs), please note that in your contribution or send me a note to that effect and I will see to it that the contribution is directed to the NWWC.
As a FYI here are two links related to the NWWC:
1) A video some of you have seen, that includes several case studies of the life impacts resulting from existing DSES wounded warrior programs:
Video of DSES Wounded Warrior Life Impact Case Studies
2) A link to the current draft of the NWWC Program Plan. You can either view this in Google Docs or download it as a powerpoint file. I would value input you may have on this work. Note that this document may give you more than you ever wanted to know about the initiative.
Link to National Wounded Warrior Center Program Draft in Google Docs
Needless to say, it was a busy year for us, for Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, and for the National Wounded Warrior Center initiative. While it may seem like a very "giving" activity, we also get a lot back by seeing the difference we can make in the lives of our students - young and old.
Contributions to the 2016 Sierra Cycle Challenge
Because of the success of the program, and the generosity of people like you, both the richness and the scale of the program has been able to grow. Grants and other funding from the VA, DoD, Paralympic foundation, private companies, and other government/non-profit institutions have enabled the acquisition of more specialized equipment, student scholarships and travel money for more disabled athletes to come to Mammoth - winter and summer. Mammoth Mountain has recommitted their support with facilities and IT support, free lift tickets for students, free ski rentals for students, and other non-cash program support.
Having said all of that, the bulk of the cash support still comes from individual contributors. These cash contributions are used primarily to fund out-of-pocket expenses for lessons for disabled students who otherwise do not have the financial resources to pay the nominal $75 fee for a lesson (fee includes a private lesson, ski rentals, and an all day lift ticket).
Both of us are again riding in the Sierra Cycle Challenge 2016 to help support the program in 2016/2017. Many of you have been generous in your support of us and Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra in the Sierra Cycle Challenge in past years. Hopefully you can participate again at any level that works for you.
The Sierra Cycle Challenge is a fund raising ride of 150 miles with vertical climbing of over 9000'. It is a ride like no other! Virtually 100% of contributions go straight to the disabled sports program - the support resources associated with the bike ride are almost all donated by volunteers/individuals, other non-profit organizations, and businesses in Mammoth Lakes. Last year the ride contributed almost $40,000 to the disabled sports program, and through our friends and family, we were able to record almost $11,000 of that amount through your contributions.
We need your help! The funds we raise for The Sierra Cycle Challenge go directly toward supporting students with individualized instruction and adaptive equipment, so they can enjoy the same sports that you do. Your donations will allow veterans with cognitive and physical disabilities and children with autism, cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, and other disabilities to remember that life is worth living.
We have a personal goal to raise $8,000, and would like to reach something near the $11,000 you collectively contributed last year. Please help us reach the goal with a tax-deductible donation to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. We will be climbing our way through the 9000' in the Eastern Sierra for two+ days and thinking gratefully of all our supporters along the way! We have started the fund raising with a $2000 contribution of our own.
If you would like your contribution to be directed to the National Wounded Warrior Center (rather than the overall Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra program), indicate that on your contribution and we will ensure that it is done.
A donation of any amount is appreciated. Even if you decide not to make a donation, a note to either of us wishing us well would be great (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) Many thanks to all of you either way.
For online donations (easiest way to donate) to sponsor Tom and Hilary, donate on this page:
Tom and Hilary's Sierra Cycle Challenge Fund Raising Page
DSES also accepts checks through the mail, and credit cards over the phone. Send contributions directly to DSES by mail or phone below and indicate it is to support Tom and Hilary’s ride (if you do contribute this way, please let us know by email so we are sure to thank you):
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra
P.O. Box 7275, 1 Minaret Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
I urge you to take a look at some spectacular pictures from past years' rides to get a feel for the experience. Go to this site:
Photos from Prior Year Sierra Cycle Challenge Events
To see us and the disabled sports team and students in action here is a range of photos of taken during the lessons and special events:
Photos of DSES Students, Volunteers, and Staff in Action
For more general information about the Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra program, go to this web site:
DSES Website Home Page
Thank you so much for whatever support you can give us on behalf of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra!
Tom and Hilary