TODAY   |  May 01, 2014

Nation’s heroes move forward after injuries

Thursday’s installment of TODAY’s “Hope to It” series spotlights a winter sports clinic that takes hundreds of wounded veterans off the sidelines and helps them bounce back from injury.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to our series "hope to it" and a special program giving back to the nation's military men and women who give so much to this country.

>> just getting back to civilian life to be a challenge for some veterans, especially disabled vets but this program is helping make that transition just a little bit easier. being unable to walk doesn't mean you can't fly. especially after you've served in the armed forces . this winter sport clinic in colorado has gathered more than 300 disabled military veterans and active duty servicemen and women to learn activities like skiing. scuba. and sled hockey . for navy veteran lori wood, hitting the ice has been a welcome opportunity to move forward from a paralyzing injury.

>> i was like realizing that i'm still alive. if that makes sense. and i could just still get out there and enjoy life and enjoy what i love doing when i was growing up.

>> reporter: for 28 years, the group disabled american veterans and the u.s. department of veterans affairs have hosted this sports clinic to help ease the transition back to civilian life.

>> the courage that the same folks on the battlefield see some of that here. so that returns normalcy to their lives and allows them to regain the same confidence that they had as a warrior.

>> reporter: army sergeant christian sedano lost his right leg after stepping on an ied in afghanistan. it is his second time participating in the clinic with his fellow soldiers.

>> it is a very comfortable feeling. even though they're military, we never met each other. we're all the same group, whether vietnam, world war ii , desert storm , it is comfortable. lets me know that i'm not alone.

>> reporter: the veterans don't have to pay anything to participate. and each activity functions as another step on the climb to regain confidence.

>> it just makes you feel good. you know? when we're participating in wheelchair sports usually we're using our wheelchair in our sport. in climbing you leave the wheelchair at the bottom.

>> reporter: you outdoorsman mark weldman participate every year. in 1982 a climbing accident left his paralyzed from the waist down and had he to be rescued by the navy. seven years later he triumphed by climbing 3,200 feet to reach the top of the el capitan rock formation in yosemite national park . he teaches rock climbing to these men and women and a way to give thanks and to show that sports can help overcome a life changing injury.

>> good job!

>> hockey i think has pretty much saved my life, to be honest. it is invaluable to me, to my recovery. i don't know what i would have done without it, to be honest. to know i can still do what i loved growing up? it is invaluable to me.

>> how about the raw strength of these athletes? climbing up the rock face? and sled hockey is one of the most exciting things you can watch. in the paralympic games the the united states was in that gold medal game. it is one of the most thrilling sports.

>>> find more information on this program. learn out how can you help at "today."com.