Steamboat Springs Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports has hired its first executive director, Julie Taulman.
She started her position Sept. 15 and said the move is a sign of progress for the 4-year-old nonprofit organization, which runs camps for adaptive athletes in Steamboat.
“For us, it’s a signal of our growing because this is the first full-time position that we’ve hired for STARS,” Taulman said. “We’re also in the process of bringing on a program director also, so it’s kind of an exciting big step for us.”
Taulman said the board also would add some part-time office staff this winter.
She has been on the STARS board for 3 1/2 years, most recently as vice president. Taulman lives in Steamboat Springs with her husband, Kevin, and their sons, Jacob, 11, and Kyle, 8. She got involved in adaptive sports after Kyle became a paraplegic from a tumor.
Jim Schneider, STARS board president and vice president of skier services for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said Taulman was a top choice because of her nonprofit experience and fundraising and management skills. She has worked with Strings Music Festival and the “Let’s All Play” Playground Project that raised more than $750,000 to build two accessible playgrounds in Steamboat.
Her personal experience also was part of the board’s decision, Schneider said.
“She’s got an adaptive child, and being close to that certainly helped, and knowing how to deal with the ins and outs of the challenges that come with that — accessibility, what kind of questions and needs adaptive guests require, and she’s in touch with that,” he said.
Taulman said one of her goals was to increase awareness of the group in the community. STARS puts on summer and winter camps for adaptive athletes, including what Taulman said was the largest children’s adaptive skiing camp in the country. Her other duties include fundraising, planning, helping expand STARS’ offerings and overseeing operations.
Taulman said she hopes to continue to draw volunteers to STARS — 125 people helped last year, she said. Volunteers assist with Horizons Specialized Services clients, with STARS camps and with adaptive athletes who want to ski with other programs, she said.
“It’s a program that not only assists people that can’t afford to access some of these programs but also allows them to choose to participate in these programs for people with disabilities, by themselves or with able-bodied people, and we can accommodate any one of those,” Taulman said.
She said STARS also has equipment for adaptive Nordic skiers and snowshoers. A donation this summer allowed the organization to buy two adaptive mountain bikes, and she expects to be able to buy two or three adaptive hand cycles, as well.
“Those will be used not only for our camps but also for locals or tourists,” Taulman said.
This is particularly useful in breaking down barriers for adaptive athletes, she said. People without disabilities easily can rent a bicycle or skis for a day. But some adaptive equipment can cost $4,000 to $5,000, and STARS opens the door for people to try equipment without taking on that expense.
Taulman said she’s most excited about her new role because working with STARS has been so rewarding.
“I’ve sat at so many camps watching parents with tears in their eyes thinking their kids would never be able to do this sort of thing.”