Operation High Altitude 2021 | June 6 – 11, 2021

“The amount of information I got was life changing. Extremely helpful. Sometimes I feel scared of getting out of the military while also feeling scared of staying in. Just talking to all of the other participants was so helpful.”

– 2021 program participant

DSES held Operation High Altitude earlier this month, our first program for military athletes and veterans this year. Active duty and veteran service members pursued mountain biking, hiking, boating, fishing and rock climbing while camping along beautiful McGee Creek as part of a pilot program for the National Wounded Warrior Center. Participants spent 60% of their time challenging themselves through adaptive recreation, and 40% of their time in presentations and discussions geared toward goal setting for successful transitions. Participants shared some of what they learned from the goal setting discussions, including the understanding that setting a goal doesn’t always give you an answer, but it provides a process and method to formalize goals for yourself.

The camp was made up of eight athletes, two mentors and seven presenters, not to mention the many fantastic volunteers, donors, and outfitters. We felt that the week was a great success, especially since several participants expressed interest in coming back for family R&R, internships, or giving back through support of the NWWC programs.

The week began mountain biking at Shady Rest park, where program participants shared that being on trails was exciting and rewarding. Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) held an informative demonstration Monday afternoon, followed by a yoga session with Laura Stark.

Multiple cyclists ride mountain bikes in a line.

DSES Operations Director Cara Leonard (center) leading military participants in a bike ride at Shady Rest Park. Photo: Peter Markle.

A group of people sit cross legged and sprawl out on green grass.

Camp participants at McGee Campground during a yoga session. Photo: Maggie Palchak.










With high winds sweeping into the Eastern Sierra on Tuesday, June 8, we decided to redirect our paddle-boarding day to a fun hike and scenic pontoon boat ride on Convict Lake. On Tuesday afternoon, participants geared up for Wednesday’s fishing day on Crowley Lake by doing fishing demos at Shady Rest Park with Eastern Sierra Fly-Fishing Guides. They then used those skills to practice on McGee’s Trout Ponds that evening. Participants felt that the fly fishing experience was very enjoyable and even stress reducing.

A boat with three individuals wait on top a glassy blue body of water. A wide mountain in across from them in the background of the image.

Camp participants fish on Crowley Lake. Photo: DSES.

Hikers walk along a trail with a blue lake at the bottom left of the image and a towering mountain above them.

Participants, DSES staff, and volunteers during an afternoon hike at Convict Lake. Photo: Marc Molano.

A man wearing a yellow shirt and hat holds a fishing pole and his line is being pulled. Across from him there are leafy green branches and a mountain in the distance.

Camp participant, Julius, with a fish on his line at McGee Creek’s Trout Pond. Photo: Marc Molano.




















Wednesday June 9th consisted of a ton fishing! Camp participants fished at Crowley Lake to prepare for the fish bake in the evening.

On Thursday, June 10th, everyone headed to June Lake for a half-day of rock climbing under the expert guidance of Sierra Mountain Guides. We learned that participants were impacted by this activity in a positive way, sharing that being uncomfortable can be helpful for growth, and trust helps gain confidence back.

“While watching participants overcome fear, learn to trust the gear, belay persons, and guides, I perceived an almost palpable feeling of empowerment and accomplishments of the participants. While all of the events offered value, rock climbing was a great capstone event.”
-DSES Advisory Council member and OHA Mentor John Snelson
A rock climber is hardly visible climbing up a ginormous granite rock. A pine tree to the right of the image shades most of the rock, and two climbing ropes are visible hanging down the rock.

Participant, Josh, climbs up a rock near June Lake. Photo: Marc Molano.













Thursday night’s Hootenanny kicked off with Fiddlin’ Pete and great food. Participants, staff, and volunteers had the opportunity to eat, relax, and listen to music. What a wonderful way to end the week.

Three men are pictured standing on a stage made of rocks. The man on the left wears a cowyboy hat and plays the banjo while singing into a microphone. The man in the middle also sings into a microphone, and the man on the right plays the guitar.

Fiddlin’ Pete and band performing at Thursday night’s Hootenanny. Photo: Amanda Carlson.











THANK YOU! We want to give a huge shoutout the many volunteers, outfitters, and donors who contributed to the success of the program:

NWWC Program Planning Committee
Stephen Mount
John Snelson
Todd, April, and Luxor Wolfe
DSES Volunteer Kitchen Crew
DSES Volunteers
McGee Creek RV Park and Campground
Mammoth Lakes Fire Department
Mammoth Lakes Firefighter Foundation
Long Valley Fire Department
Laura Stark
Convict Lake Resort
Mammoth Kayaks and Paddleboards
Andy Gasper
Crowley Lake Fish Camp
Carissa Tourtelot
Eastern Sierra Fly-Fishing Guides
Nick Popaditch
Sierra Mountain Guides
Paul Pintek
Jim Takayesu
Pino Pies
Dan Molnar
Eastern Sierra Transit Authority
Epic Cafe
Footloose Sports
Grocery Outlet
Mammoth Disposal
Mono County Tourism
Pita Pit Mammoth
Rolling Chef 395
Stellar Brew
The Breakfast Club
Sue Ebersold
The Town of Mammoth Lakes
Visit Mammoth
Rancho Sante Fe Foundation
Fiddlin’ Pete and Friends
The Garcia Family
Clif Bar & Company
Peter Markle
Get Outdoors 365
James M. and Carol F. Krueger Charitable Fund

Operation Mountain Freedom brings Wounded Warriors to Mammoth Mountain January 13-17, 2020

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), in partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Inyo National Forest Service will welcome more than 50 active and veteran military personnel and their families.  Participants have a myriad of disabilities, including Post Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Major Depressive Disorder, and amputations.

Beginning with a welcome dinner hosted by Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, the community of Mammoth Lakes will gather together to support our wounded warriors for a week of therapeutic recreation as part of Operation Mountain Freedom.

This event, which has been growing each year since 2007, was created in an effort to help our wounded warriors reintegrate into civilian life within the beauty, safety, and joy of the Sierra Nevada mountains. New this year, athletes will participate in sessions geared toward assimilating to civilian life including goal setting, successful transition and caregiver support.

Like all of DSES’s programs for military athletes, Operation Mountain Freedom often changes the lives of participants. For example, Julius, a retired Army Ranger who first came to Operation Mountain Freedom in 2016 learned to Alpine and Nordic ski as part of the program. Julius has since returned to several events to improve his skills and now competes across the country in Nordic and biathlon races. He and his fiancée, Katie, continue to support the program in many capacities like fundraising and mentoring both military and civilian athletes new to the world of adaptive sports. Julius and Katie are now so entwined in the DSES family that they are making the organization as part of their wedding celebrations which include a ceremony at the summit of Mammoth Mountain coinciding with Operation Mountain Freedom.

On Thursday, January 16, the Mammoth Lakes community is invited to come together to recognize all participants with a ceremonial Arch of Honor at 8:45am at the Gondola Building at Main Lodge.

Operation Mountain Freedom is supported by generous grants and contributions from The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF), National Football League (NFL), Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA), Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, and Steve and Dana Garcia.

For a complete schedule of events and more information about Operation Mountain Freedom, please contact Amanda Carlson at 760.934.0791 or email acarlson@disabledsportseasternsierra.org.

Operation Mountain Freedom 2019

From Jan. 28 through Feb. 1, wounded, injured, and ill service members and veterans from across the country participated in adaptive skiing, snowboarding, and community programs.

MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA – Tuesday, February 5, 2019. The blue skies, moderate temperatures, and some fresh snow set the perfect scene for wounded, ill, and injured military athletes to face their on-snow challenges during the 2019 Wounded Warrior OPERATION MOUNTAIN FREEDOM (OMF). This was the 13th year Mammoth Mountain hosted Wounded Warrior OPERATION MOUNTAIN FREEDOM, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra’s (DSES) winter program for adaptive military athletes. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area contributed lift tickets, rentals, event space, meals, and more to wounded warrior participants. This year’s OMF participants numbered 63 wounded warriors, staff, and guests – the largest OMF group to date.

During the week, DSES staff and volunteer instructors watched athletes’ confidence grow with their skills on snow. Three jam-packed days of alpine and Nordic skiing and snowboarding for participants, many new to the sports, along with group breakfasts, lunches, and dinners culminated in a fun afternoon of play at Woolly’s tube park. For participants, the true success of the week is connecting with each other and sharing stories while discovering new abilities. As the week progressed, the smiles grew bigger and the hugs grew warmer and stronger.

Special extracurricular events during the program included a presentation by Canine Companions for Independence, an art therapy by Project AIM (Art Inside Me), the traditional Arch of Honor where participants are cheered on by community members while going through a celebratory arch of raised ski poles, and a presentation of a new purple heart to Corporal Roy Cratty, after his original was burned in the Paradise Fire. CBS affiliate KPIX and FOX News newscasters were on site to capture the action (watch the FOX clip at: https://bit.ly/2ScIaxT).

Top: Athlete Sarah with Volunteers Cindy and Jack – Photo by Susan Baribault. Middle: Aerial view of an athlete with volunteers – Photo by Wayne Smith.

Bottom: Volunteers Barb and Lee with Athlete Taylor – Photo by Peter Markle.

www.disabledsportseasternsierra.org | www.woundedwarriorsmammoth.org

Left: Athlete Damon with Volunteer Emily. – Photo by Susan Baribault. Right: Athlete Roy with DSES Exchange Instructor Dean – Photo by Wayne Smith.

Since the inception of OMF, the number of participants has grown exponentially as have the number of mentors. Mentors, such as Major General TS Jones (ret.), give participants hope, guidance, and inspiration. Jones told participants that their journey giving back and serving others is not over, that staying connected with others is crucial, and that this entire week was made possible by the passion, commitment, and expertise of volunteers, donors, and staff. Jones reminded everyone that the connectivity and opportunity that Operation Mountain Freedom provides is “a blessing of liberty”.

DSES is grateful for the more than 80 incredible volunteers who gave their time, skills, and energy, sharing their passion for the mountains and snow sports with participants. DSES also wishes to extend their gratitude for the generous sponsors who makes this week extraordinary: Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Disabled Sports USA, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, The Westin Monache Resort, The Rudders, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Burgers Restaurant, Good Life Café, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, Sue Ebersold, The Currys, The Hamiltons, The Wolfes with Canine Companions for Independence, Sharon DeMattia and Project AIM, the cooking crew (including Hilary Schroeder, Randee Levin, Betsie Greenwood, Tomoko Jost, Leslie Markovitz, Amy Ambellan, Dale Fulkerson, Maggie Wahl, Pat Smoogen, Tricia Diamand, Becky Takayesu, Noreen Wilbur, Sharon Landes, Alan Yata, Kim Montgomery, and Andrea and Tony Pighetti), the event decorators extraordinaire (especially Amy and Steve Ambellan and Kathy and Bert Moon), and photographers (Wayne Smith, Peter Markle, Sue Baribault, and Andrea Pighetti).

Operation Mountain Freedom 2018: Wounded Warriors Excel at Winter Sports


CONTACT: Laura Beardsley, Deputy Director

PHONE: 760.934.0791 EMAIL: lbeardsley@disabledsportseasternsierra.org

Operation Mountain Freedom 2018: Wounded Warriors Excel at Winter Sports

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra welcomes old and new friends to 12th annual camp for military athletes.

MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA – Tuesday, January 30, 2018.  After a powerful week of sun and snow, the entire Mammoth Lakes community celebrates a successful Wounded Warrior Operation Mountain Freedom. Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), in partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, hosted Operation Mountain Freedom 2018. Wounded Warriors and their guests came to Mammoth from across the country to face challenges and fears while alpine skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. In its 12th year, Operation Mountain Freedom brought together more athletes and guests than ever, and every participant – including volunteer and staff – experienced thrills, connected with each other, and made memories. At the end of the week, nearly all participants asked how they can come back to experience more.

Participants experienced many “firsts” throughout the week, such as the first-time snowboarding, first time in snow, first time making beautifully executed turns down a black diamond run, first time seeing a spouse this happy in a long time, and first time feeling at ease since their injuries.

Some of the toughest tests for participants recovering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) were the social challenges. For example, Eilis, acknowledged gasps of shock as she stood up to speak at the farewell dinner, saying she could not look anyone in the eye on day one, but proudly stood in front of the group to express her joy and gratitude by day four.  Maggie Palchak, Program Director, said, “I heard so many staff and volunteer instructors sharing tales of the skills and progress made by their athletes. As the week progressed, the smiles grew bigger and the hugs grew warmer and stronger.” Sarah, also a Wounded Warrior, was moved to tears by her Wounded Warrior husband’s healing experience saying, “I have not seen him this joyful in a very long time.”

In a message to participants at the close of the program, Palchak highlighted how the program inspires everyone involved. “I want to acknowledge all the Wounded Warriors and guests who made the journey to our mountain and trusted us to challenge you in so many ways. Thank you, also for sharing your stories with us,” she wrote. “You fill us with hope and joy. Thank you, as well, to all the amazing volunteers who gave your time, skill, and energy, sharing your passion for the mountains and snow sports with our Wounded Warriors.”

DSES Executive Director Kathy Copeland said, “We see the change in these men and women and want to provide more lifesaving opportunities for them. It’s because of our community and specifically the shared mission to make the Wounded Warriors’ lives better that this is possible.” The Board of Directors and staff of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra want to thank all volunteers and event sponsors who put so much into making Operation Mountain Freedom possible: Disabled Sports USA, US Department of Veterans Affairs Adaptive Sports Grants, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Steve and Dana Garcia, the staff of Alaska Airlines and TSA at Mammoth-Yosemite Airport, Simone Ardoin and Scottie Marzonie of Mammoth Taxi, The Westin Monache Owners and the The Westin Monache Resort, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Amy Ambellan, Kathy Moon, General TS Jones (ret.), Ed and Kathy Curry, Sergeant Major Julio and Maggie Meza, Ed and Kathy Hurley and Burgers Restaurant, Canine Companions for Independence, Miles Weaver, Mark Brownlie, Col Jason “Woody” Woodworth, Good Life Café, Sue Ebersold, Ken and Jen Roberts, John Snelson, Willy Buhl, and Cindy Stern.

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra is a nationally recognized adaptive sports program that offers year-round instruction for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Based in and around beautiful Mammoth Lakes, CA, we create inspiring challenges, provide expert instruction, and rally the community to comfortably accommodate people with disabilities. Since 2007, DSES has developed lessons and programs specifically for military athletes. We are currently working on an initiative to build a comprehensive National Wounded Warrior Center to support military athletes in Mammoth Lakes throughout the year. Visit us at: www.disabledsportseasternsierra.org. For more information on the National Wounded Warrior Center, visit: www.woundedwarriorsmammoth.org.

Operation Mountain Freedom brings Wounded Warriors to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area January 22nd to 26th, 2018


Contact: Laura Beardsley, lbeardsley@disabledsportseasternsierra.org, 760.934.0791

Operation Mountain Freedom brings Wounded Warriors to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area

January 22nd to 26th, 2018

Wounded, injured, and ill service members and veterans from across the country will participate in adaptive skiing, snowboarding, and community programs.

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, in partnership with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, will welcome 58 participants to Mammoth Lakes, including recovering active duty and retired service members and their companions. Athletes ranging from 21 to 88 years old will alpine ski, snowboard, and Nordic ski over the course of four days at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center. Private adaptive ski and snowboard lessons for all athletes, taught by dedicated staff and volunteer instructors, will be complimented by fun, group activities like tubing and community meals with guest speakers.

“This particular blend of active duty and veteran athletes offers an incredible opportunity for mentoring – both in regards to life in their new bodies and reintegration into the civilian world,” says Maggie Palchak, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra’s Programs Director.

Operation Mountain Freedom helps athletes move forward into healing by challenging them through outdoor recreation with family and friends and through shared experiences with other military athletes in the pristine Eastern Sierra.

On Thursday, January 25, the entire Mammoth Mountain community is invited to come together to recognize all participating athletes with a ceremonial Arch of Honor (9:00am at the Gondola Building at Main Lodge). Then at 12:00pm, a private luncheon dedicated to participating service members and their families will be hosted by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The luncheon’s guest speakers include Brigadier General Kevin Killea, of Camp Pendleton, and Mammoth Resorts COO Mark Brownlie, who will acknowledge the sacrifice and devotion to duty our Wounded Warriors made to protect our nation and our freedom.

During their time in Mammoth, Wounded Warriors stay at the Westin Monache Resort and are graciously welcomed by many Mammoth Lakes businesses and community members. The Mammoth Lake Fire Department will host a welcome dinner for the athletes and their companions emphasizing the bond between first responders and the various branches of the military. Other dinner programs include an introduction to Canine Companions for Independence at Burgers Restaurant; a quiet, reflective evening with local families; and a farewell for athletes to share their experiences throughout the week hosted by the Good Life Café.

For a complete schedule of events and more information about Operation Mountain Freedom, a camp for Wounded Warriors, please contact Laura Beardsley at 760.934.0791 or email lbeardsley@disabledsporteasternsierra.org.

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra is a nationally recognized adaptive sports program that offers year-round instruction for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Based in and around beautiful Mammoth Lakes, CA, we create inspiring challenges, provide expert instruction, and rally the community to comfortably accommodate people with disabilities. Since 2007, DSES has developed lessons and programs specifically for military athletes. We are currently working on an initiative to build a comprehensive National Wounded Warrior Center to support military athletes in Mammoth Lakes throughout the year. Visit us at: www.disabledsportseasternsierra.org

Operation High Altitude 2017

Everyone deserves a chance to take a break from daily life, spend time outdoors, and have fun with family and friends. For our Wounded Warriors, these opportunities are hard to come by and often present unique challenges. For one week in June, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra helped 29 Wounded Warriors and their families surmount these challenges, heal, and open possibilities for the future. Active duty service members and veterans from across California converged upon McGee Creek RV Park & Campground for a week of camping and exploring the awe-inspiring therapeutic outdoor recreation of the Eastern Sierra. With the support of volunteers, staff, and the community, Wounded Warriors biked, fished, paddled, and climbed their way to a new sense of strength and confidence. For some, the best part of the week involved accomplishing personal challenges. Marine Corporal Hannah conquered her fear, pushed herself to paddle, and learned to love hand cycling with the support of the group. At the end of the week, Hannah said “I learned I will always have a supportive community ‘family’ even after I get out of the military.” For others, the time spent with family, friends, and comrades was equally rewarding. Daniel and Ellie cheered as their brother, Marine Corporal Z, tackled paddling, climbing, and fishing despite his injuries. For Z, the week highlighted future possibilities, “I learned that even if we are disabled, we can still do great things.” Days of activity and new experiences were complimented by exceptional meals and beautiful evenings in camp. Everyone enjoyed their fresh catch once incorporated into a delicious fish bake. The annual Hootenanny, catered by the crew at Arcularius Ranch, was a great way to celebrate a successful week with Cowboy Poet Larry Maurice and Derik Olson entertaining the crowd.

Once again, the entire Mammoth Lakes community came together to welcome and support our Wounded Warriors and their families. Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, and distinguished guests who helped make the 11th Annual Operation High Altitude a success. Thanks especially to McGee Creek Campground, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, The Breakfast Club, Sierra Mountain Guides, Mammoth Kayaks and Paddleboards, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Mickey Baron, Jim Leonetti, Joe Bellomo, Jim Elias, Dan Lenging, Bob Klug, Chris Leonard, Bob Wilson, Scott Swett, Jose Marquez, Kevin Peterson, Dwayne Elhers, Bob Wegesser, Fred Kukulus, The Gottwald Family and Arcularius Ranch, Clif Bar, Hive Lip Balm, Canine Companions for Independence, Jeff Meadway, McGee Creek Lodge, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply, Crowley Lake Store, Mammoth Disposal, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, and our crew of Gourmet Goddesses & Gods: Hilary & Tom Schroeder, Pat Smoogen, Simone Ardouin, Leslie & Jack Markovitz, Kat Kelly, Dick & Betsie Greenwood, Steve & Amy Ambellan, Claudia Chance, Penny Bordokas, Maggie Wahl, and Tricia Diamand. Together, we continued the tradition of changing lives and giving our Wounded Warriors a chance to experience the healing power of our home.

Operation Mountain Freedom 2017

Wounded Warrior Operation Mountain Freedom 2017 welcomed 58 athletes in its 11th year.

Operation Mountain Freedom took to the slopes and trails of Mammoth Lakes January 23rd to January 27th with one goal – to change the lives of Wounded Warriors from across the country. Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra rallied a community of support behind 58 injured service members and veterans and their families as they explored the exhilaration of winter sports and the beauty of the snow-covered landscape. With volunteer instructors from DSES and Mammoth Mountain Ski and Snowboard School, athletes spent three days skiing and boarding at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, many for the first time since their injuries. Whether skiing or snowboarding, Wounded Warriors pushed themselves to take on challenges and develop new skills. Marine veteran, Ronnie, applied his experience as a competitive hand-cyclist to mono skiing. “I had the time of my life learning a new passion on the snow,” he said. Eighty-seven-year-old Korean War veteran Bing found his ski bike exhilarating and inspiring saying “if I can do what I did on this trip, I can do most everything else.”

In addition to alpine skiing at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Wounded Warriors and their families spent a morning Nordic skiing at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center. Blanketed in fresh snow and bluebird skies, the forests and vistas of the lakes basin combined solace and smiles with the physical challenge of skiing. By contrast, the afternoon flying down the tracks at Woolly’s Tube Park was a raucous affair. Throughout the week, DSES and the entire Mammoth Lakes community took every opportunity to honor our Wounded Warriors and their families for their exemplary service and encourage them on the next steps of their journey. Captain Frank Frievalt and the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department along with DSES volunteer Alan Yata served up a delicious welcome dinner at Station #1, and Roger and Karen Curry opened their home for a home cooked meal and powerful conversations. Inyo/ Mono Veterans Services Officer Jessica Allmon gave a moving account of her own service in the US Army as the guest speaker at a delicious dinner provided by Ed Hurley and Burgers Restaurant, and the Good Life Café provided another special send off for our athletes.

left: Wounded Warrior Rose and DSES Board Member and Volunteer Penny Bordokas skiing at Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center; center: 84 year-old Korean War Veteran Roy and his wife Carole walk the Arch of Honor during Operation Mountain Freedom; right: DSES Staff Instructor Emily Estremo and mono skier Ronnie have some fun on the slopes during Operation Mountain Freedom.

This was such a great opportunity for me to get back to doing things that I once enjoyed and to spend some time with my son. All in all, this was the best week that I’ve had in a very long time, and I am very humbled. Thank you! – Brian, Sargent Major, Wounded Warrior Battalion, Camp Pendleton

Always a highlight of the week, Wounded Warriors, and their families passed through an Arch of Honor Thursday morning created by a record crowd that included members of a training squad from the Marines Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickel Meadows. They were also celebrated as part of a luncheon featuring US Marine Corps General Kevin Killea and the presentation of a special award recognizing Frank Frievalt and the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department for their contributions to DSES’s Wounded Warrior programs. Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, and distinguished guests who helped make the 11th Annual Operation Mountain Freedom a success, especially Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, The Westin Monache Resort, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, Sue Ebersold, Roger and Karen Curry, Burgers Restaurant, Good Life Café, and Mammoth Lakes Fire Department. As a community, we are able to make a difference in the lives of our Wounded Warriors.

Volunteers and staff of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra cycle the Glass Mountains to grow scholarship fund

Ride organizer Maggie Palchak with her husband Jim Lewey

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Contact: DSES Office at 760.934.0791

Volunteers and staff of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra cycle the Glass Mountains to grow scholarship fund

Wounded Warrior Ryan Sykes hand cycling on the left, with support rider Ricky D

Mammoth Lakes, California – (July 27, 2016) This past weekend, 19 hardy souls braved the heat and wind to ride 165 miles and climb over 10,000 feet to raise money to support Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES)!  Riders of the Sierra Cycle Challenge raised over $70K to help build the DSES scholarship fund. Over 40% of our lessons receive some form of scholarship and we are proud to be able to say that we never turn away an athlete for reasons of financial need.  DSES brings the thrill and exhilaration of outdoors sports to athletes of any age and with any disability.  We serve children and adults, wounded warriors and civilians.  We offer lessons in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, snowboarding and biathlon in the winter; cycling, paddling, climbing, and more in the summer! 

Sierra Cycle Rider Jill Hodges, who is an amputee, poses at Silver Lake Resort, a sponsor

This year our Sierra Cycle Challenge riders included DSES staff members and volunteers, athletes with disabilities (including former DSES students) and a wounded warrior, veteran of the US Navy.  Fundraising riders were supported by an incredible crew of volunteers on bikes, in vehicles and on the ground, and five incredible massage

therapists, Michelle Mather, Sarah Asa, Kristin Shelburg, Melissa Soltero and Keisha Curtis, donated their amazing healing hands to rejuvenate the riders after they climbed from Chalfant to Lee Vining on Sunday.  


DSES gives a heartfelt thanks to all of the fundraisers and volunteers who helped to make this event such a great success.  We also want to thank our incredible sponsors including:  Footloose Sports, Mammoth Chevron, Ed Hurley & Berger’s Burgers, Doug & Debbie Lindfors, Brent Truax and the Sierra Nevada Resort, VONS, CLIF Bar, Mono Vista RV Park, Z Pizza and Giovanni’s.


Remember, it is not too late to support this amazing event and this amazing organization!  You can donate at www.crowdrise.com/SierraCycleChallenge2016.  For more information

about DSES you can visit our website at www.disabledsportseasternsierra.org






A total of 22 wounded warriors from throughout the nation (Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton and Balboa Naval Medical Center, Florida, and Texas) gathered for the tenth annual Operation High Altitude, presented by Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra.  From June 6th through the 10th, participants with disabilities (including PTSD, TBI, below knee amputee, above knee amputee, and more) had life changing experiences through exposure to different therapeutic activities.

A total of 32 participants attended the camp, including 22 wounded warriors, two Camp Pendleton staff and eight guests of wounded warriors.  Korean War veteran Bing Bingham and his wife Jody returned again to share his experiences with the younger veterans.  Perfect weather, abundant fun, and therapeutic, empowering activities made the event a great experience for all.

After the group set up camp at McGee Creek Campground Monday afternoon, they were treated to a welcome dinner hosted by the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department.  This semi-annual tradition starts the week with a great round of introductions and fabulous hospitality. 

A highlight of the week was Tuesday morning at June Lake Beach, when General Ted Banta, USMC, spoke to the whole group, who was gathered in part for the Dick Noles Wounded Warrior Pathway ribbon cutting ceremony.  This brand new accessible mobi-mat pathway leads from the restrooms at June Lake Beach all the way into the water and even offers a 100-foot stretch along the beach for individuals with mobility issues to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery.  This mat was the generous gift of four donors in honor of Dick Noles; Dave McCoy, Bob Schotz, John Frederickson and Randy Short. Dick Noles passed away in November and he was instrumental in developing accessible waterways in the Eastern Sierra.  The athletes enjoyed an absolutely perfect day of paddling and swimming on June Lake thanks to Rob Witherall and Mammoth Kayaks.

Wednesday morning local fishing guides came together to take the athletes fly fishing on Crowley Lake.  Many delicious fish were caught for dinner that night!  Huge thanks to all… Mark Spieler and his fishing guides who donated their time and expertise.  This was followed by an afternoon of cycling at Shady Rest Park compliments of Footloose Sports.

Thursday, with the help of Neil Satterfield and Howie Schwartz from Sierra Mountain Guides, everyone tried rock climbing by either making it up a variety of top roped ascents and/or on a highline Tyrolean traverse.  What a successful day!  Thursday night was our farewell Hootenanny catered by Breakfast Club host Sue Ebersold and help from her talented friends: Fred, Scottie B., Cowboy and Simone! Our entertainers were Cowboy Poet Larry Maurice and musician Derik Olson.

Friday morning was a day of farewells as the bus took many of our athletes back to Wounded Warrior Battalion West at Camp Pendleton.  The remaining veterans relaxed at the Whitmore pool and then bowled several games at Mammoth Rock N Bowl before flying home.

What a fabulous week!  Thank you so much to all of the wonderful people and businesses who made this incredible event possible:  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, McGee Creek RV Park & Campground, Mammoth Kayaks, Sierra Mountain Guides, The Breakfast Club, Pita Pit, Eastside Bakery, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, Silver Lake Resort, Mammoth Disposal Inc, Whitmore Pool & the Town Of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Rock ‘N Bowl, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Crowley Lake General Store, Canine Companions for Independence, Footloose Sports, Eastern Sierra Fishing Guides Association, Randy Short, Bob Schotz, Dave McCoy, John Fredericksen, Larry Maurice, Derik Olson, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply and all of our DSES volunteers who are the backbone of the program!

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra receives $6,400 Grant from Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for Adaptive Sports Program

dses_logo_horiz.jpgFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 6, 2016

Contact: DSES Office at 760.934.0791

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra receives $6,400 Grant from Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for Adaptive Sports Program

Mammoth Lakes, California – (May 6, 2016) – Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) is proud to announce that we have received a $6,400 Quality of Life grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The award was one of 107 grants totaling over $735,482 awarded by the Reeve Foundation to nonprofit organizations nationwide that provide more opportunities, access, and daily quality of life for individuals living with paralysis, their families, and caregivers. Conceived by the late Dana Reeve, the program has awarded over 2,600 grants totaling over $19 million since 1999. 

This Quality of Life grant has been awarded to DSES to support increased accessibility for our summer sport program participants. DSES will use this money to purchase an accessible paddle board.  While most people are familiar with stand up paddle boards, they may not know that there is an opportunity for sitting athletes to enjoy this sport as well.  This board will be accessible to athletes using wheelchairs in their daily life.  The grant will also allow us to purchase adjustable seating for paddle sports which will make all paddle sports more accessible to athletes with mobility issues.

DSES is extremely honored to have received this grant from the Reeve Foundation. It is a huge achievement to be recognized by the Foundation and it will be a monumental bonus for our summer program, enabling even more athletes the ability to independently and safely recreate on the water! The equipment we purchase will be used at summer camps like Pedal~Paddle and the Wounded Warrior Operation High Altitude. We are extremely appreciative of the Reeve Foundation for their generosity and support of our program.

“The Reeve Foundation is committed to supporting programs and resources that foster independent living, improved health and community engagement,” said Donna Valente, Director, Quality of Life Grants, Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. “The recognized grantees are instrumental to our work at the Reeve Foundation as we strive to serve the disability community with a roadmap of resources and programs to enhance their quality of life.”

Awarded twice yearly, grant requests were evaluated and scored based on a rigorous review process to determine funding for organizations that improve daily life for those living with paralysis, as well as their families and caregivers. This cycle, the Reeve Foundation strategically focused on projects that address the needs of people with paralysis living in underserved areas, designated as groups or county or civil divisions in which residents have a shortage of personal health services or face economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to healthcare.

Reeve Grant diamond-web - Copy - CopyThe Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grants Program was created to address the myriad needs of children and adults living with paralysis, as well as provide assistance and education to their families and caregivers. Funded programs serve individuals living with paralysis caused by injuries, diseases or birth conditions, including but not limited to, stroke, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The grants support innovative initiatives that aim to increase quality of life by improving physical and emotional health, broadening community engagement, and increasing independence. Quality of Life grants are funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living (cooperative agreement number 90PR3001-01-00).

About the Reeve Foundation

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. We meet all 20 of the Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability and hold the BBB’s Charity Seal. The Paralysis Resource Center (PRC) is a program of the Reeve Foundation, and is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (cooperative agreement number 90PR3001-01-00). For more information, please visit our website at www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-539-7309.

About Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra

We believe the freedom and exhilaration of outdoor challenges changes lives. No one should be left behind simply because of a disability! For more information contact our office at 760.934.0791 or visit www.disabledsportsasternsierra.org

# # #


Maggie Palchak

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra


Rita Gentles

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

(973) 379-2690 ext. 7123