Discovering Ability in Western Colorado

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Colorado Discover Ability is a non-profit organization in Grand Junction, CO that gets anyone with disabilities to enjoy the great outdoors.

“For one thing, we have a large population in Grand Junction with people with disabilities,” C.D.A. executive director Kelly Collini said. “So, there’s a need.”

C.D.A. has been around for almost 40 years and started as a program to help the disabled ski at Powderhorn Ski Resort. The organization now has three full-time employees, one part-time, and around 150 volunteers a year that help with events and activities.

Their program director Daniel Brown is a ‘Certified Adaptive Instructor’ (CAI) and trains volunteers so they are building skills and keeping everyone safe.

“Any type of challenge that they may have, we work with as many people as we can to try and support them within our means.” C.D.A. office manager Michele Rehl said.

There is a large military population in the Grand Valley, and C.D.A. helps veterans if they need it. In 2018, they helped about 70 veterans go biking or skiing. This year they are on pace to help around 100.

“We work side by side with the Veteran’s Administration to build their confidence,” Rehl said. “Once they complete that program that they are in for a year they have a safe place to continue working with those things and go forward to develop their skills.”

They have all sorts of activities for anyone that range from biking, river rafting, skiing and more. They even have a partnership with the Colorado Special Olympics, where they ski at Powderhorn almost every Saturday.

No matter what the disability or condition, C.D.A. adapts to make sure everyone can partake in the outdoor fun.

“It’s the best for somebody who doesn’t get to come up on the snow very often, maybe didn’t even realize that it’s an activity that they could do.” C.D.A. volunteer Emily Dowdy said.

For being in the Grand Valley for almost four decades, some of the clients become volunteers like D.J. Dickey.

Dickey gratuated high school in 1998 and has had cone-rod dystrophy his entire life. The condition causes one’s vision to deteriorate over time. But, he has been volunteering for over 20 years.

“Oh it’s a blast,” Dickey said. “Because I know what they’re going through in a way. I wasn’t allowed to do football or any of the team sports at school so C.D.A. became my sport.”

KREX 5’s Troy Lynch went skiing with C.D.A. client, nine year-old Lexi Bingham. Lexi has a form of muscular dystrophy and used C.D.A. to ski for the first time and loved it.

If you would like more information or to donate to Colorado Discover Ability, you can visit their website here.

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