The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) is a nonprofit organization that provides year-round sports and outdoor recreation for children and adults with disabilities.
Hal O'Leary was working as a ski instructor at Winter Park in Colorado in 1970 when he volunteered to provide a skiing lesson to twenty-three amputee children. The lesson was a success and spawned an organization that now has more than fifty employees and 1,000 trained volunteers who provide recreation opportunities for some 3,000 children and adults with disabilities each year.
NSCD provides lessons for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, as well as year-round competition training to ski racers with disabilities. Summer recreation opportunities include biking, hiking, in-line skating, sailing, therapeutic horseback riding, white water rafting, baseball, fishing, rock climbing for the blind, and camping.
The organization's competitive skiing program, founded in 1984 by disabled world champion Paul DiBello, hosts learn-to-race camps for teens and young adults at ski resorts nationwide. At the elite level, disabled athletes train in Winter Park and compete in races around the world as well as in the Paralympics. NSCD also hosts the Columbia Crest Cup each year at Winter Park Resort. The race is one of the largest ski races in the country and is a premier qualifier for the U.S. Nationals and membership on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team.
As a leader in the therapeutic recreation field, NSCD provides professional development opportunities such as training sessions and clinics. Its annual adaptive sports symposium in Winter Park teaches ski instructors and outdoor recreation specialists how to develop or improve their own programs for disabled participants.
This summer, NSCD teamed with Denver Parks and Recreation Special Needs Program to host the Colorado Rockies professional baseball team's camp for children and teens with disabilities. The one-day camp included a baseball skills clinic and a game with family members and friends. The nonprofit also partnered recently with Gart Sports to sponsor blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer, who is best known for climbing Mt. Everest in 2001. Weihenmayer climbed Russia's Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, earlier this year and plans to reach the summit of Carstenz Pyramid in Australasia by the end of the year.
NSCD's highly professional Web site provides information on the organization's programs and recreation offerings. Categories of information include Recreation, Competition, Education & Outreach, Volunteer, Media, Events, and About NSCD. The online store features NSCD merchandise for sale, and a giving section provides instructions on how to donate to the organization or sponsor an individual athlete. The site also features numerous stories from participants, staff members, and volunteers describing how NSCD activities have affected their lives.
NSCD relies on support from individuals, corporations, and foundations to help subsidize the costs of lessons and equipment to keep them affordable for students. Donors can also contribute to a scholarship fund to provide free lessons and equipment for qualified athletes.