One week ago today we were winding up our trip to Vail that was made possible by the Vail Veterans Program and the Wounded Warrior Project. This trip was a dream come true. Every detail was perfectly planned down to the minute. It was the best little getaway that made celebrating our Alive week even more special.
Behind all this excellent planning stands Cheryl Jensen and her angels. Together they put together all of the transportation, lodging, meals, lessons, equipment rentals and activities that led to smile after smile from our veterans and their families. Jensen and her friends currently have the the only trip out there for the warriors and their families. You may think well why is that special?! Here's why. Family and love are the best medicines anywhere out there. You can't heal a warrior alone, it is a team effort. Cheryl believes this as much as I do. I can say without a doubt our lives are better because we were able to share a few days with her. She is such an amazing American and I truly wish every person could meet her. Our warriors need more Cheryl Jensens and her friends like hers in their lives. It is people like her who take the resources they have and make them into blessings for families like ours.
We arrived at the hospital at 4:30am Tuesday, January 24 to meet our group. We all boarded the shuttles for the airport. We got there super early but filled our time with lots of giggles. We had an excellent escort from TSA from the curb to the terminal. Before we knew it, it was time to board our Frontier Airlines flight. The staff of Frontier was so wonderful. They made sure we were all in and settled before they let anyone else on the plane. This is really wonderful when you are traveling with wounded warriors who have wheelchairs, all sorts of accessories and then their kids too. The attendants came around and swiped their cards so we could all enjoy the Direct TV while on our flight. This little bonus was a huge hit with our girls. I came prepared like any other mom planning for a long plane ride with their DS games and coloring books and etc for the flight. But Frontier trumped me with their 25 channels of Direct TV.
We landed and were once again assisted by TSA and this time the Denver airport greeters joined in to welcome us to the area and walk us through. They had us point out our luggage and they loaded it all up for us. Then we boarded our shuttles to go to our lodging destinations. Our rooms were in various resorts spread out over the Vail Village area. We were all within walking distance of each other and to our dining and skiing locations.
We all went and got settled into our resorts. We were all super worn out. So we we barely got everything unpacked before we crashed! We all met back up at 6 for dinner so we meet the programs organizers and found out the plans for our stay in Vail. We also got to meet the other families from BAMC (the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) in San Antonio, TX) and the families from the San Diego MTF who were also invited to be a part of this incredible trip. Our dinner was delicious and our dining companions were terrific. It was so great to meet other families that are in different parts of the country, but are on the same road we are all on.
We all went back to our rooms and settled in for a good night sleep. The next morning we walked to the town bus (which was handicap accessible) and took it to the ski lodge. Here we were treated to a delicious breakfast and then got to meet our ski instructors for our trip. Moments after finishing our breakfast a very sweet lady came and took our girls to ski school for the day. Then Chaz went his instructor and I joined some of the wives and our OT from our hospital for our groups' snowboarding lessons. We all went and got our equipment rented and then went out to our training area. Luckily we were right where we could see our hubbies. We loved being able to turn around and see the guys out there skiing and snowboarding.
The one thought that just kept running across my mind again and again was where we were one year ago. I still can't believe one year ago we started this journey. Chaz was still in so much pain and we were just beginning to figure it all out. I was so overwhelmed with trying to figure all the details. One year later he's snowboarding and skiing down the slopes. It is so amazing to see how much life can change in just a year. Watching Chaz and the girls have so much fun was the perfect way to reflect back on the year prior. It was the perfect way to remind us how far we have come on this journey.
Our days in Vail went like this. Skiing from 9-12, lunch, more skiing from 1-3, get kids from ski school, rest and then meet up for dinner. Thursday we got to go tubing at Adventure Ridge. And Friday our girls went ice skating and then we all got to go bowling. Or how about this for simplification fun, fun, fun, fun oh and more fun. There were meals thrown into all that fun. That's how our three days in Vail were. One word sums it up, perfect.
Thank you doesn't seem like it's enough to say to the Vail Veterans Program and Wounded Warriors Program. They did an excellent job arranging this trip and thinking of every detail. Our family is so honored that we were chosen to attend. Cheryl and her friends started these trips in 2004. They have been able to bless so many families. With their amazing spirits, they'll be able to bless countless more families to come. Here's a link to a story on some of the other amazing veterans and their families who were with us! http://www.vaildaily.com/article/2012120129863 And here's the link to the program so you can learn more about these amazing people. http://vailveteransprogram.com/
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.