Paralympic skier from GJ receives important grant
U.S. Paralympic skier Chris Jefferson of Grand Junction recently was named the recipient of a grant from the High Fives Foundation Winter Empowerment Fund.
According to its website, the nonprofit Tahoe, Calif.-based organization is “dedicated to raising money and awareness for athletes that have suffered a life-altering injury while pursuing their dream in the winter action-sports community.”
This year, the High Fives board of directors approved more than $41,000 in grants for eight athletes, including Jefferson, who frequently is seen assisting other disabled skiers on the slopes at Powderhorn Mountain Resort.
Jefferson served in the 82nd Airborne Paratroopers, taking part in the 1983 Grenada invasion, before he suffered a spinal injury in a motorcycle accident.
While his lengthy rehabilitation included many wheelchair sports, he fell in love with skiing, and in 2004 he earned his Professional Ski Instructors of America certification.
In 2005, Jefferson took second place in his division in the NASTAR national championships. He also has taught other disabled skiers at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic at Snowmass and Crested Butte.
In December of 2011, Jefferson earned a spot on the U.S. Paralympic Development Team, which puts him in contention for a role on the U.S. team at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
The High Fives Foundation grant will ease the burden of fundraising and allow Jefferson to spend more time training.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Jefferson, who is ranked 87th in the world in paralympic sit-ski GS skiing. “Supplying me with warm clothes and better ski equipment makes all the difference.”
The grant also will allow Jefferson to join the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s paralympic development team.
In its short history, the Winter Empowerment Fund has assisted 33 athletes in eight funding categories, including living expenses, insurance and adaptive and winter equipment.