By LuAnn Georgia, WTC Stratcom
Tompkins Basin, Fort Belvoir, Va., was the site for a group of wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families and Caregivers to gather for some fun in the sun and water activities.
Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation and Team River Runner (both non-profit participants in Community Support Network) joined forces to offer a day of tubing, water skiing, sailing, flat-water kayaking, and camaraderie as part of their adaptive sports initiatives.
Bill Dietrich, Executive Director of ‘Two Top’- a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, runs a summer and winter program which benefits wounded warriors and their Families and was on hand to discuss their program and the effects it has on the participants.
“I love helping people do things they didn’t realize they could do,” Said Mr. Dietrich. “Our program works with all sorts of disabilities. There aren’t many we can’t help. Some people are fearful when they first start out, but building trust is essential. It’s key to an individual letting their guard down, breaking down barriers, and allowing themselves to have fun.”
“Getting everyone together and helping them try new things or just seeing them enjoy themselves offers a lot of rewards.” But according to Mr. Dietrich, “It’s not a one man show. Without our incredible volunteers, these programs wouldn’t be possible.”
During the summer, water sport events are offered at different locations and are usually held a couple of times a month. The summer programs are only available during the week days, in order to avoid the weekend crowds. Reservations are required in order to properly plan and staff the events. According to Dietrich, an ongoing challenge is getting enough volunteers together at one time, as the majority of volunteers still have regular jobs. He added, “it takes between 8-10 people to properly staff for just one water skier.”
While summer activities are only offered during the week days, the bulk of winter activities are held on weekends. Snow skiing and snowboarding sports, including lessons, are offered at Two Top Mountain in Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa.
Dietrich, the 2012 recipient of the Army’s Spirit of Hope award is passionate about his program, the impact and joy it’s brought him as well as those he helps. All programs are free to wounded, ill, or injured population. “As long as I can continue to raise the money to fund the program, it will be free for our wounded warriors.”