The only thing better than having a fabulous hobby is sharing that hobby with others.
Members of San Juan Sledders have discovered the sheer joy of sharing their winter activities with a group of people who don't always have the opportunity to partake of the many outdoor recreational activities Southwest Colorado has to offer.
Even if you don't know the name San Juan Sledders, you may have already benefited from their work. The volunteers of this nonprofit club are responsible for grooming more than 300 miles of trails for multi-use in La Plata and Montezuma counties (for a full list, visit www.sanjuansled
ders.org). Yet, what they give back to the community does not stop there.
For the last 12 years, San Juan Sledders has hosted an annual event for people who are connected with Community Connections, Adaptive Sports Association and Special Olympics. Participants spend a fun-filled, snow-packed day with the Sledders, riding snowmobiles and dog sleds and even trying out the gigantic snow cat used to groom the trails. Of course, there's also lunch and plenty of social time.
Without opportunities such as those presented by San Juan Sledders, many of the participants would have limited access to this kind of activity, either because of the cost or physical limitations. However, the members of San Juan Sledders don't see any barriers to participation, and anyone who can walk, run or roll up in a wheelchair can have the ride of his or her life.
One of the masterminds behind the San Juan Sledders annual Fun Day for People with Disabilities is past president and grooming foreman Roger Pennington.
"We do it for selfish reasons," Pennington said. "We enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of the participants."
Pennington said many community members could have the pleasure of enjoying those smiles. The need is out there (more than 75 individuals participated in the 2008 event at Molas Pass); all it takes is for other hobby enthusiasts or recreational groups to find a date and host an event. Whether it is rafting, jeeping, fishing or even a walk (run or roll) through the park, the most important piece is for different members of the community to spend time together and share in a mutual interest.
Are you or your organization looking for a way to give but your finances are hampered by the economy? Take a page from the San Juan Sledders' book.
You can contact San Juan Sledders through its Web site, or call Community Connections at 259-2464 or visit www.cci-colorado.org for more ideas about how to host an event for people with disabilities.
Tara Kiene is the director of
case management with Community Connections, Inc.