For 25 years, the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP) has provided a safe place for individuals with disabilities to gain confidence and experience all the outdoors has to offer in the region. One of the only programs in the immediate region focusing on recreation for individuals with disabilities, TASP holds multiple fundraising events in Mountain Village and Telluride throughout the year.
TASP Executive Director Courtney Stuecheli is celebrating her 15th year with the organization in September, and continues
“I always admired the mission of the organization and the work of the previous director, Colleen Trout,” Stuecheli said. “It seemed like a natural fit.”
TASP offers year-round programs for people all ages and accessibility levels.
In Telluride, there’s no shortage of adventures and activities, and TASP’s programming hasn’t stopped because of COVID-19, Stuecheli explained. This summer, TASP held four camps for veterans, and they are getting ready for two hand-cycling camps in Moab this fall.
In the winter season, the organization runs a daily ski program.
“The program services participants with all different needs, whether it be a hearing-impaired interpreter or a visually impaired guide, we offer services and equipment to anybody out on the slopes with their able-bodied peers,” Stuecheli said.
During the pandemic, TASP had to adapt. Instead of holding in-person fundraising events, they held their first online auction. The auction included prizes like a four-day stay in a Mountain Village resort and art by local artists.
However, this year Stuecheli is excited to reinstate in-person fundraising events. On Wednesday, in conjunction with Nova Home Loans and Land Title Guarantee Company, TASP held a fundraising event at the Transfer Warehouse featuring local band Lavalanche.
“The guys at Nova Home Loans and Land Title here in Telluride approached us to be the nonprofit beneficiary to a one-night music event featuring Lavalanche. We are so grateful that they support our mission to opening the outdoors to all,” Stuecheli said. “And making it more possible for individuals with disabilities by promoting independent and personal growth through adventure and all of the activities that people cherish in a mountain town, whether that’s skiing, rock climbing, cycling and just the therapeutic benefits of our beautiful outdoors here.”
Will Chapman, who attended the event on Wednesday, works full-time for TASP. Originally from Florida, he joined the team because he “just really fell in love with the program.”
“I leave work every day happy, and that’s all I can ask for,” Chapman said.
Another volunteer at the event was Makenna Craige, who grew up in Telluride and has volunteered with the program for the past eight years.
“At the end of any lesson, you have this smile on your face; it’s stuck there. My dad is a volunteer, and then I started getting into it, and so did my sister … and it’s kind of become like a family thing for us to all get involved within the community,” Craige said.
Specially trained and experienced volunteers and employees like Craige and Chapman are one of the reasons that make TASP so unique.
“We typically offer more than 50 different trainings for our volunteers and instructors. The product we sell is highly trained and specialized instructors to create a personalized experience you can’t duplicate,” Stuecheli said. “In a non-COVID year, we have upwards of 180 active volunteers in the community, which is incredible. We couldn’t do what we do without their support, and we are always looking for people to be a part of the TASP family.”
In addition to the concert on Wednesday, a big fundraising event for the organization is the 23rd Annual Bob Miller Memorial Golf Tournament, which takes place Sept. 16.
“We still have some teams available, and the event will most likely sell out,” Stuecheli said.
To sign up, go to tellurideadaptivesports.org or call Stuecheli at 970-728-3524.
If you cannot attend the golf tournament but still want to support the program, TASP is currently holding a text fundraiser. In honor of TASP’s 25th anniversary, the organization’s goal is to raise $25,000 by Nov. 1 through 1,000 individual donations of $25 each. To give, text TASP25 to 44-321.
“It takes quite a bit of money to run a ski program, and in pre-COVID times we raised over $100,000 in scholarships for veterans’ and regional use programs,” Stuecheli said. “The money we fundraise is spent and focused on educating new highly trained volunteers and instructors, lift access for participants and spent towards new adaptive equipment to be shared by people in the community.”
Stuecheli is prepared yet remains optimistic about the future of this upcoming winter season.
“It’s safety first this winter. The safety of our volunteers, our participants and our staff are at the forefront of what we do, and skiing can be challenging. Studies show us that some individuals with disabilities are at higher risk of COVID complications, and we are doing everything in our power to adhere to local health recommendations to ensure everyone’s safety,” she said. “I hope we can get more people out on the slopes. We got through last winter, and I know that it can only get better from here.”