STARS Mountain Challenge aims to pack slopes, provide support for life-changing programs |

STARS Mountain Challenge aims to pack slopes, provide support for life-changing programs

— This week, 23 children came to Steamboat Springs and left their disabilities behind them while they pursued friendships, accomplishments and a love of skiing on Steamboat Ski Area’s slopes.

"We would not be able to do camps like these if not for fundraisers that help us subsidize these programs," Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports Executive Director Julie Taulman said. "This is what STARS is all about, changing lives."

So while the latest STARS camp wrapped up Monday afternoon, the drive to help keep the camps running in the future will be on display during the STARS Mountain Challenge events Friday and Saturday at The Steamboat Grand and Steamboat Ski Area.

The STARS camps are an inspiration for young people grappling with the limitations of their disabilities, Taulman said. She thinks the camps offer those with disabilities the chance to break away from the everyday struggles they face and find adventure, new paths and new purpose through a number of different sports.

The camps also provide a strong social element that lets participants hang out with their peers and a place where they can continue to grow and define their own goals and purpose.

This year's STARS Mountain Challenge will open at 7 p.m. Friday with a Partini event at The Steamboat Grand. Participants are asked to dress to impress in 1960s attire. A Partini ticket is included with Mountain Challenge registration. However, individual tickets may be purchased for $125 per person and include hors d'oeuvres, martinis, beer, wine and music. Participants must be 21 or older to attend.

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On Saturday, the celebration will move to the slopes as teams of skiers of all abilities set out to complete the lift and landmark challenge starting at the top of the gondola at 8:30 a.m.

Taulman said the challenges will include trying to ride every lift on the mountain and visiting as many landmarks as possible before 2 p.m. The teams will be paired with an Olympian, Paralympian or Wounded Warrior and will receive points for meeting certain goals on the mountain. The teams with the most points will receive trophies and prizes for their efforts.

"Most teams will not complete every challenge," Taulman said. "But hopefully, they will all have a great time trying."

Special guests will include American sled hockey player Nikko Landeros, who got involved with STARS shortly after losing his legs in a highly publicized car accident in 2007 while he was still a student at Berthoud High School. Landeros and good friend Tyler Carron had stopped along the road to fix a flat tire when they were struck by another car and pinned between the two vehicles. Both Landeros and Carron lost their legs in the accident.

Earlier this month, the two high school friends were members of the U.S. Sled Hockey Team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Paralympics.

Taulman said it's not too late to get involved. Skiers and teams can register for the skiing event through midnight Thursday. There is an $85 registration fee, and team members must raise at least $250 each in pledges for STARS.

Taulman said the money will remain in Steamboat Springs to support the STARS mission to provide life-changing experiences for its clients with disabilities, including those with autism, cognitive and physical disabilities and cancer survivors.

To register for the STARS Mountain Challenge, visit the STARS website at

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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