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“Why Slow Down?”

A man stands holding a trophy between his wife and a coach

“Deno” Cedeño and his wife Gwen

by Hans Petersen, VA Staff Writer
Monday, March 31, 2014

National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic
March 30-April 4, Snowmass Village, CO

“Deno” Cedeño lost his leg to an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol in Afghanistan.

On the day he received his prosthetic device, he spent eight hours up and walking around. This week he will be snowboarding on a mountain in Colorado.

“I was given a second chance, so why slow down?” asked Cedeño.

As his wife Gwen puts it, “He gets up every day and pushes himself as hard as he possibly can. He is such a powerful and impressive person and I’m so proud of him every day.”

Cedeno is one of nearly 400 Veterans participating this week in the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Snowmass Village in Colorado.

The annual event is a world-leader in adaptive winter sports instruction for U.S. military Veterans and active duty servicemen and women with disabilities.

 I wanted to prove to everyone that I would do everything I could do before my injuries. 

Eight Months from Combat to Clinic

A full year had not passed after the explosion that changed the course of Kristian “Deno” Cedeño’s life, when he arrived at Snowmass Village for the 2013 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

It was just a few months after first learning how to walk using his new prosthetic leg. But the Army infantryman wasn’t much for staying within boundaries.

Snowboarding was challenging. On day one, a frustrated Cedeño wanted to go home. But sticking with it, he progressed through the week and began to make great strides on the slopes.

Cedeño, still an active duty soldier, was ultimately awarded the DAV Freedom Award, the event’s top participant recognition, for his outstanding courage and achievements at the 2013 clinic.

Cedeño will be back on the mountain again this year, ready to build on his success from the last clinic.

“I owe it to the men and women on my left and right who gave me strength when I didn’t have it. So how dare I put that to waste?”

Now that he’s had another full year adapting to his prosthetic leg, he’s going to be unstoppable.

Other Sports Include Rock Climbing

Set in stunning Snowmass, Colorado, this year the Clinic will celebrate its 28th year by bringing Veterans to the mountain with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions and other disabilities.

More than 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team serve as ski instructors to meet the unique needs of the participants.

In addition to Alpine skiing, the Clinic also features a number of other sports including cross country, rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking and snowmobiling.

The Clinic is co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans and is made possible by a number of sponsors through monetary and in-kind donations.