One Man Faces Winter Extremities for Disabled Veterans
KREX News Room
GRAND MESA, Colo. Every year disabled veterans are invited to participate in the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado. Veterans must pay their way to the games, which can total over $1,200. One Grand Junction man camped out at the Grand Mesa for four days and three nights in sub-zero temperatures to raise money for the cause.
A disabled veteran himself, James Sommerville understands the battles military men and woman fight overseas and as civilians
"A lot of these guys have just been injured within six months, they're not coping with their new lifestyle, they haven't figured out their new normal," said Sommerville.
He set up camp at an elevation of 10,000 feet, with snow piling down day and night.
"I have a wood-burning stove, it's a backpacking wood-burning stove, I use that to melt the snow, so that way I don't have to carry any extra fuel with me, everything comes off of the trees," he said.
Sommerville had to be extra careful that the temperature in his tent did not get warmer than 32 degrees, or else the snow keeping up his tent would melt.
He's battling the elements so that more disabled veterans can experience the winter games, "It changes a lot of people's lives. Gives them a head start and lets them know there's still stuff they can do out there."
He's been attending the games for nearly 20 years, and is now an instructor.
"When I put him in that piece of equipment, before we leave I tell him, 'I have to have total control.' It's real tough for these people, who are just starting to get their lives back, to give up all the control they have and give it to somebody they just met five minutes ago."
Sommerville says the extremities he's dealing are nothing compared to what are military men and woman face.
"When they're trying to fight these wars and they don't have the supplies and equipment to do it and they're pushing through it. I don't care who you are or what you are, you take care of the vets first," he said.
If he can get just one veteran to the games, Sommerville's days spent camping in five-degree temperatures will be worth it.
Anyone looking to help out Sommerville's cause can call him directly at (970) 640-8299.