“I found my happy place when I snowboard.”
2019 Participant Bio
“I found my happy place when I snowboard. I wouldn’t be who I am without it now,” said Army Veteran Alicia Thompson. Thompson started using winter sports as a therapeutic outlet after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis while serving with the 18th Military Police detachment at Fort Huachuca, AZ. She was medically retired in 2008, just one year after deploying to Afghanistan. When it came time for Thompson to return to her hometown near Lake Ontario, New York, she’d be different from when she left for Army basic combat training in 2003. She returned with a debilitating disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.
It was not easy for Thompson to adjust back to civilian life. She avoided getting care for her PTSD for almost six years after her diagnosis. Although MS is incurable, Thompson makes the best of it. Living in Western New York, Thompson experiences winter much longer than most people because of the lake effect snow. “I’ve never liked winter, but with MS, the heat aggravates the effects,” Thompson said. “I got a chance to try snowboarding a couple years ago and now I love winter.
Self-care is so important and I feel so fortunate being able to a part of the Winter Sports Clinic. Therapeutically, it helps keep me a good place mentally and physically. ” The 2017 Winter Sports Clinic will be her second visit to Aspen. Although Thompson regularly participates in similar programs in Western New York, she says the Winter Sports Clinic in Colorado is very different. “It’s an incredible experience to go to Aspen. This guarantees I get to do something I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do,” Thompson said.
“People don’t look at you for your disability. I still hold my instructor’s hand and I’m not ashamed.”
The Winter Sports Clinic is an adaptive sports program held annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs in partnership with Disabled American Veterans. Participants come from all across the United States to spend a week challenging themselves through adaptive sports.