NATIONAL SPORTS CENTER FOR THE DISABLED
News: All who knew Hal O’Leary are invited to gather Friday morning on Provisioner Deck at The Lodge at Sunspot to celebrate the life of the man who, by helping to start the National Sports Center for the Disabled, gave those with disabilities the opportunity to take part in sports and other athletic endeavors once thought to be out of reach for them.
O’Leary was a ski instructor at Winter Park Ski Area some 50 years ago when he was the only one to volunteer when doctors at Children’s Hospital and what was then Fitzsimmons General Hospital asked Winter Park Ski School to help 23 amputees learn to ski.
That session led to the founding of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which is now the world’s largest program of its kind, serving 4,000 children and adults with 20 programs that include downhill skiing, rock climbing, horseback riding, archery, rafting and camping.
Elite disabled athletes from around the world train for Paralympic and other competitions at the NSCD.
O’Leary also co-founded the Tabernash-based Shining Stars Foundation, which offers 60 year-round outdoor, social and recreational “experiences” for children, and their families, at any stage of their cancer journey: diagnosis, treatment or remission. They include adaptive skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, sailing and biking.
A 1994 inductee to the U.S. Ski-Snowboard Hall of Fame, O’Leary also was inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame and the U.S. Disabled Hall of Fame. He is the author of three books on teaching adaptive skiing and has coached the U.S. Disabled Olympic Team.
Those attending Friday’s celebration of life are advised to park in the Village Parking Structure and board the gondola to The Lodge at Sunspot between 9 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Winter Park requires that masks be worn by those unvaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.
Light refreshments will be served; reservations are not necessary for the celebration or the luncheon that follows at Headwaters Center, 730 Baker Drive, Winter Park.
Memorial donations to the NSCD or the Shining Stars Foundation are preferred.
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