DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - April 13, 2007

Challenge on the mountain

Sports clinic opens new vistas for disabled veterans

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Danville man sped downhill over the snow on the Colorado mountainside last week, enjoying one last run before the winter season ended, just like skiers all over the country.

But this man was Joey Bozik, 28, a triple amputee wounded in Iraq, who was enjoying the sport at the 21st National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, held April 1-6 in Snowmass Village. It is sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Disabled American Veterans to teach skiing to veterans with significant physical or visual impairments.

"Connecting with sports again has allowed me to have some contact with my past life," said Bozik, who attended with his wife Jayme.

"A highlight was getting to see my friends from the hospital," he said. "It was a week off, and everyone had a great, relaxed attitude."

It was the third time Bozik attended the Winter Sports Clinic. Last year he won the Aspen Challenge Inspiration Award, which included taking part in the Grand Canyon Adventure, a 10-day rafting trip down the Colorado River for injured soldiers last fall.

"They are wonderful experiences," Bozik said. "I'm feeling more comfortable as time goes on. You learn more about your body."

The ski instructors are cross-trained in adaptive skiing and snowboarding. Bozik used a bi-ski, which is two skis beneath a seat, and learned how to distribute his weight to get the edges to dig into the snow.

"I'd only skied two or three times before I was injured," he recalled. "This event helps you to move on by seeing that there are many wonderful things you can still take part in."

More than 350 veterans from across the county participated in the event.

"There were six guys from World War II," said Jayme Bozik. "They bring in so many volunteers that are the best in their field at teaching adaptive skiing and snowboards."

"It was Easter and some people were on spring breaks so we almost had the mountain to ourselves," she added.

Joey Bozik plays golf at Crow Canyon Country Club and takes part in several tournaments each year.

"I'm trying to keep up a pretty active lifestyle," he said.

The Boziks moved to Danville last summer with the Sentinels of Freedom program, and Joey is working as a personal banker at Wells Fargo Bank in Danville.

"It's a great community," he said. "Tell everyone to come by and see me."

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