Press Releases

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Announces Acquisition of Fern Creek Lodge, June Lake, CA

Historic resort to be renovated into retreat for adaptive military and sports programs.

Laura Beardsley (DSES Executive Director) Jon Coats (Former Fern Creek Lodge Owner) , and Kathy Copeland (DSES Founding Director) celebrate in front of the sign at Fern Creek Lodge in June Lake.

June Lake, CA – November 30, 2021

The Board of Directors of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) are proud to announce the acquisition of the Fern Creek Lodge in June Lake, California. The facility will be used as the home of a major expansion of DSES’s programs for military and veteran athletes, and will provide retreat-style adaptive sports programs year-round. After many years fundraising to create a National Wounded Warrior Center in Mammoth Lakes, the Board of Directors approved the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge in order to serve veterans with disabilities as they pursue thriving civilian lives.

The DSES capital campaign initiative for the National Wounded Warrior Center will come to fruition with the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge, however the name of the facility will change. The Center will be formally renamed the Jack & Kathy Copeland Center at Fern Creek Lodge. The name was selected by champions of the campaign, Ruth and Roger MacFarlane, who motivated a major donation from the Tambour Foundation. Roger MacFarlane stated, “The Tambour Foundation is proud to support Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Kathy Copeland has founded and created an organization of remarkable impact for so many people and the benefits are clearly demonstrated. As the organization grows and seeks to increase its capacity for servicemembers, it is exhilarating to be able to support their impact at such a crucial time.”

In the fall of 2020, DSES began searching for a new home for the facility after the original land from the nonprofit Mammoth Lakes Foundation was no longer available. After months of comparing land, facilities, and different locations in the Eastern Sierra, the organization is thrilled to acquire Fern Creek Lodge and begin the next phase of enhancing their commitment to veterans with disabilities as well as adaptive programming for people of all ages and backgrounds with disabilities. DSES will remain based at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and actively engaged in the greater Mammoth Lakes community, where opportunities for skiing, riding, mountain biking, and more will continue.

Fern Creek Lodge has a unique history and strong sense of place with a charming feel and natural setting, a seasonal creek, and open space backing up to US Forest Service land. The campus will provide eight independent cabins with multiple rooms and beds, a central lodge building, and an outdoor gathering place nestled among aspens with stunning views of Carson Peak and the Sierra Nevada. The retreat-style buildings and stunning environment provide the perfect location to offer a mix of programs and support a variety of individuals with disabilities and their families. All programming will include therapeutic outdoor recreation, and some programs will incorporate topics like education and vocational programs, wellness, and housing assistance.

A period of renovation for enhanced accessibility of the historic site will begin this winter and is expected to take less than a year to complete. The existing structures will provide flexibility with multiple cabin layouts with kitchens, gathering space, access to summer program areas, June Lake community amenities, and on-site storage. The organization expects to launch the first programs at the site in Summer 2022.

DSES Executive Director, Laura Beardsley, stated, “With the decision to move forward with the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra committed to greatly expanding our physical assets as well as programing to support military service members and veterans with disabilities. This expansion affects all aspects of the organization and shifts the past years of fundraising for a National Wounded Warrior Center into a new phase which will include renovation of Fern Creek Lodge as a cross-functional facility and the base of expanded of military-focused programs.”

Founding Director, Kathy Copeland, stated, “I am humbled by the ecstatic support of donors, which was crucial in making this facility a reality for the individuals we support in their journey to learn, heal, and thrive with their new lives. Thank you to everyone who was part of this – from the bottom of my heart – for your generosity and determination. Our servicemen and women are heroes and the price they pay is great. We are here to support them!”

If you would like to be part of this exciting endeavor, please stay tuned for additional information, which will be broadcast through the organization’s website, social media channels, and email platform.

 

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing adaptive sports and outdoor recreation experiences for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, DSES strives to create exciting challenges, provide expert instruction, and rally the community to comfortably accommodate people with disabilities.  

In 2007, DSES launched its first programs designed specifically for veterans and servicemembers with disabilities. DSES programs are designed to be inclusive, supporting both active duty and veteran service members of any age, from any branch of service, with any illness or injury, combat-related or not. DSES is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a different organization entirely. With the purchase of the Fern Creek Lodge, DSES will help countless others learn, heal, and thrive.

To learn more about Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, visit www.DisabledSportsEasternSierra.org.

Media contact: Katie Johnson, KJohnson@DisabledSportsEasternSierra.org

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra Announces Leadership Evolution

Copeland will focus on veterans’ initiatives as Beardsley takes helm of local organization
Two women wearing masks celebrate with flutes. The woman on the right is giving a thumbs up sign

Laura and Kathy celebrate their leadership evolution for DSES

Mammoth Lakes, CA – October 6, 2020 – The Board of Directors of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) is proud to announce key leadership changes within the organization. This fall, Laura Beardsley will step into the role of Executive Director following several years with DSES. Kathy Copeland will assume the position of Founding Director, focusing on the campaign to build the National Wounded Warrior Center (NWWC) and programs serving wounded warriors and veterans with disabilities.

Beardsley has served as the organization’s Deputy Director for nearly four years, after originally becoming involved as a volunteer in 2012 when she moved to the Eastern Sierra. She brings more than twenty years’ experience in nonprofit fundraising, program development, leadership, and administration to her new position.

After serving as Executive Director for 17 years, Copeland is happy and grateful to be handing over the reins of the organization she founded in 2001. “It’s time to acknowledge the strength, passion, and commitment that Laura brings to DSES” says Copeland. “I’m extremely proud and thrilled for her to be guiding DSES into the future.”

“I love DSES and our work to support adaptive athletes at Mammoth Mountain and throughout the region. I’m honored to have the opportunity to build on Kathy’s vision and support our incredible community in this way.” Beardsley said.

As Founding Director, Copeland will remain an integral part of DSES focusing her work on initiatives to support military athletes and veterans with disabilities including the National Wounded Warrior Center. With more than $11.7 million committed to the initiative to date, the capital campaign is nearly complete, and DSES expects to make Copeland’s vision a reality in the coming year. “Our military men and women make exceptional sacrifices, and many come home with unique challenges, both visible and invisible. DSES and the Eastern Sierra have an amazing opportunity to help these wounded warriors learn, heal, and thrive.”

About

Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing adaptive sports and outdoor recreation experiences for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, DSES strives to create exciting challenges, provide expert instruction, and rally the community to comfortably accommodate people with disabilities. 

In 2007, DSES launched its first wounded warrior programs designed specifically for veterans and servicemembers with disabilities. With the launch of their National Wounded Warrior Center initiative, they hope to help countless others learn, heal, and thrive. To learn more about Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, visit www.DisabledSportsEasternSierra.org.

Media contact: Laura Beardsley, Executive Director, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, LBeardsley@DisabledSportsEasternSierra.org, 760.934.0791

­­National Wounded Warrior Center Searching for New Home

Athlete riding a recumbent handcycle flexes both arms in celebration of strength

David and Juice cycling during DSES’s Operation High Altitude. (Photo: DSES Collection)


Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra committed to providing facility to support veterans with disabilities

Mammoth Lakes, California – September 9, 2020 – Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) has announced that it will find a new location for its planned National Wounded Warrior Center. With contributions and commitments of $11.7 million, DSES has made tremendous progress in securing support to create a National Wounded Warrior Center in Mammoth Lakes. The new facility will offer veterans with disabilities the resources and knowledge they need to return to civilian life with confidence, hope, and skills to find successful employment and build strong families. While the project, originally planned for construction on Mammoth Lakes Foundation land near Cerro Coso Community College, finds itself in search of a new location, DSES embraces the change of plans as an opportunity to enhance its vision for the Center.

“Of course we are disappointed by the news that the MLF land is no longer available to us,” says DSES Executive Director Kathy Copeland, “especially as this sort of facility and expanded programming is needed now more than ever. We are reaching out to our generous donors and partners to inform them of this change, and our largest donor has recommitted their support and encouragement to create the Center. This is an opportunity to align the facility and programs with another location to help our heroes thrive.”

In a decision announced last Friday, the Mammoth Lakes Foundation applauded the outstanding programming offered by DSES and praised the “honorable merit” of the proposed National Wounded Warrior Center, but ultimately determined they would not provide the land for the project.

DSES appreciates the support of its donors and the Mammoth Lakes community for the proposed facility and stresses that addressing the needs of wounded warriors and veterans with disabilities has been, and remains, a top priority for the organization. Over time, veterans’ needs have shifted, requiring more programs to help overcome conditions such as PTS and depression. Prior to Covid-19, DSES planned to expand its current military sports programs by offering new one-week programs that were slated to begin this fall. The organization now hopes to be able to start the new programs early next year and will continue spearheading plans for the National Wounded Warrior Center.

“Internally, we are assessing opportunities to enhance the vision of the National Wounded Warrior Center in a new location,” says Copeland. “We welcome community input and ideas as we forge ahead.”

Media contact: Laura Beardsley, Deputy Director, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, lbeardsley@disabledsportseasternsierra.org, 760.934.0791