Celebrities Laud, Encourage Disabled Vets
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., April 4, 2005 Actress Bo Derek said she wouldn't have missed the opportunity to mingle with more than 350 disabled veterans gathered here at the 19th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.
Actress Bo Derek jokes with Jaime Garcia, a first-time participant in the winter sports clinic. Photo by Donna Miles
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"It's such a positive, happy experience, and it's so wonderful to see all the attention going to the veterans who deserve it so much," said Derek, national honorary chairwoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Rehabilitation Special Events and a five-time participant in the winter sports clinic.
The actress, best known from the movie "10," chatted and posed for photos with the veterans during a "Taste of Snowmass" event in which local chefs dished up their culinary specialties for clinic participants. The event was part of the opening activities for a six-day program that encourages veterans to push their limits and discover their capabilities through a variety of winter sports.
"I feel like the lucky American who gets to say, 'Thank you," to the veterans for their service, Derek told the American Forces Press Service at the event. "Everybody wants to say, 'Thank you,' but not everyone gets the opportunity."
Among veterans Derek chatted with at the event was Jaime Garcia, a former Navy petty officer who suffered a spinal injury in 1999 and is attending his first winter sports clinic.
Grinning ear to ear after chatting with Derek, Garcia declared his intentions for the days ahead. "I want to take away memories, to meet new people, and to just have fun," he said.
This year's event features a star-studded cast. Grammy award-winning singers Vince Gill and Amy Grant will give a private concert, and up-and-coming country singer Ty Nelson performed a patriotic tribute during the opening ceremonies April 3.
Also during the opening ceremony, Rudy Ruettinger, of Notre Dame football fame and the inspiration for the movie "Rudy," urged the veterans to look beyond their disabilities and "go for your dreams."
Ruettinger, an inspirational speaker, told the veterans of the power of passion and urged them to apply it to their lives. "When you have passion, your attitude changes," he said. "You see life differently."
He praised the winter sports clinic participants for their courage and determination in overcoming their disabilities. "You are an inspiration by who you are," he said.