Local Disabled Sports Pioneer Wins Prestigious Award

Hal O’Leary, founder of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, has been awarded the prestigious honor of the Order of Canada -- Canada’s highest honor of merit given to those recognized for lifetime achievement.

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NSCD Founder Hal O'Leary

Winter Park, CO (Vocus) July 15, 2010

Hal O’Leary, founder of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, has been awarded the prestigious honor of the Order of Canada -- Canada’s highest honor of merit given to those recognized for lifetime achievement.

Hal O’Leary, born in New Brunswick, Canada, learned to ski at an early age, and moved to Winter Park, CO in 1968. In January 1970, Winter Park Resort received a call from The Children’s Hospital of Denver hoping the ski school would be able to accommodate a group of amputee children for ski lessons. With virtually no adaptive ski programs or equipment to rely on, Hal O’Leary volunteered to teach this young group by creating his own adaptive equipment and teaching concepts -- changing the lives of these young people -- and the world of disabled sports.

Now 40 years later, and hundreds of thousands of ski lessons provided under his design and direction, Hal O’Leary will be appointed to the Order of Canada. This highest honor of merit in Canada is awarded to those recognized by their achievement in important fields of endeavor. These honors are awarded by Canada’s Governor General on behalf of the Queen of England.

Fewer than 6,000 people have been inducted into the Order of Canada since it began in 1967. Other members of this esteemed honor include Wayne Gretzky, Nelson Mandela, Celine Dion and Michael J. Fox. More information on the Order of Canada can be found at http://www.canada.gc.ca .

Further information about the NSCD
What began in 1970 as a one-time ski lesson for children with amputations for the Children's Hospital of Denver, the NSCD is today one of the largest outdoor therapeutic recreation agencies in the world. Each year, thousands of children and adults with disabilities take to the ski slopes, mountain trails and golf courses to learn more about sports -- and themselves. With specially trained staff and its own adaptive equipment lab, the NSCD teaches a variety of winter and summer sports and activities to individuals with almost any physical, cognitive, emotional, or behavioral diagnosis. Over 23,000 lessons have been taught over the last year and the NSCD has recently opened a full-time satellite office in Kansas City and hosts programs and events in four other US cities.

Winter Park Resort is home to the NSCD Competition Program and hosts thousands of winter and summer programs each year for NSCD athletes. The NSCD has an operation office at the base of the Resort and has enjoyed a 40 year partnership with Winter Park Resort in providing recreational opportunities for children and adults with disabilities.

For more information on the NSCD, please visit http://www.nscd.org .

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