2005-01-07 / Community

Vol Seeks Help For ‘Wounded Warriors’

By Brian Magoolaghan

Take a look at the photograph that accompanies this story and you will immediately notice eight men with smiles on their faces.

What’s less obvious is that many of them were severely injured fighting for the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan. Look closer: The man in the wheelchair lost both of his legs. The men holding the t-shirt have prosthetic limbs.

They’re standing in what some might think an unlikely spot for amputees – in front of the ski lodge at Breckenridge, Colorado. And their next destination, with your help, will be the Windham ski resort in upstate New York, where Flip Mullen and other volunteers from Rockaway will help them conquer the Catskills Mountains.

Mullen (standing second from left in photo) joined the men last month as part of the Wounded Warrior Project, which offers assistance to the men and women – many of them either in their teens or 20s – who suffered traumatic injuries while fighting for our nation.

“Putting Veterans first in America” is the project’s motto. “Wounded soldiers will return to civilian life minus one or more limbs, or with serious wounds or disfiguring scars, and will face greater challenges today obtaining assistance and finding opportunities that would enable them to provide for themselves and their families,” says its website, www.WoundedWarriorProject.org.

The goal, Mullen said, is providing recreational venues for disabled veterans to “get them out there.”

Mullen, a retired New York City Firefighter, is a 15-year volunteer with the adaptive sports program at Windham Mountain in upstate New York. With about 150 volunteers, including others from Rockaway, it’s the largest program of its kind on the east coast, he said.

On weekends, you can see volunteers and participants riding the “C lift” and cruising down Wonderama. Some use modified ski poles. Others use a sled device that looks like a miniature bobsled with a ski on the bottom. Those “mono” sleds rise about three feet from the ground and require balance.

For the weekend of February 4-6, Mullen will welcome the Wounded Warrriors to Windham, and is seeking donations to bring about 10 vets and their spouses to the resort for the weekend.

Donations marked “Wounded Warriors” may be sent to Windham Mountain, P.O. Box 459, Windham, New York 12496, c/o the Adaptive Sports Program.

Ask Mullen for another good reason to donate and he will answer you simply: “These guys are our heroes.”

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