Wisconsin News

Vets overcome physical limitations to cross-country ski

LA CROSSE, Wis. - A program at the Tomah VA is helping veterans overcome physical limitations and do activities they never thought they'd be able to do again.

Sparta resident Clarence Brooks, who served in New Mexico in the 1960s, is one of them.

On Tuesday, he tossed a medicine ball against the wall at the Tomah VA gymnasium, warming up to do something he hasn't done in decades -- cross-country skiing.

"I haven't been back on skis in years, but I'd love to get back on them," said Brooks.

But this time will be different.

He's going to try a sit-down ski.

The Cross-Country Ski Clinic is a new part of the Tomah VA's adaptive athletics program. It's about getting vets out of the house and back into the community.


"A lot of veterans feel like they're kind of just left and they have injuries either from their military time or post-military, but they don't know what to do," said Danita DuBord, a recreation therapist at the Tomah VA.

After the indoor warm-up, it was time for Brooks to head out into the cold and get strapped into the sit-down ski.

With a little push from some staff members, he glided away through the snow.

"The adaptive skiing and the adaptive sports, period, for all of us elderly guys, I mean, the sky's the limit -- just so long as we stay positive, and practice, and continue to believe, and rely on the staff here. And the staff here is so supportive, Jesus!" said Brooks.

Sometimes a little push from the right people can go a long way.

Brooks said getting to an adaptive cross-country skiing competition is now a new dream of his.

Veterans have two more chances to try out the Cross-Country Ski Clinic. The final sessions will be Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Tomah VA's gymnasium.

The Tomah VA offers a lot of other adaptive athletics as well, like archery, cycling, golf, fishing and bowling.

Any vet interested in participating in adaptive sports can contact Danita DuBord at 608-372-3971 ext. 66449 or danita.dubord@va.gov.

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