Disabled veterans from across U.S. gather in Colo. to conquer winter sports

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They're soldiers with brain injuries and amputations and other wounds- but it's not keeping them off the mountain.

Hundreds of disabled veterans gathered here in Colorado for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, sponsored by the Veterans Administration.

Veterans like Anthony Evans found out, getting downhill isn't always easy, when you've faced an uphill battle.  Still, he came to try something he’s never done before: mono-skiing.  He lost a leg when he got an infection from a foot surgery.  But on this day, he’s skiing.

Anthony is one of 400 people from across the country  who came to Snowmass for a challenge.

“It opened up a whole new light to me,” said Jonathan Lujan, who first attended the clinic back in 2008.

A former Marine Sergeant, his vehicle crashed when his convoy came under fire in Iraq in 2003.  Surgery left him partially paralyzed.

“Now, I can`t separate my toes, i can`t wiggle my toes, and i have anesthesia so i can`t feel from my knees down,” Lujan told FOX 31.

At first he didn't know how to cope.

“I was hiding out in the bottle, drinking and hanging out in bars, so this kind of saved my life, coming to this clinic.  It was a lifesaver for me, it got me back into sports, got me back into something athletic, and so I see the importance of staying involved,” Lujan said.

Now, he trains to ski full time - and will likely represent the US at the Paralympic Games next year.  Yet he still finds time to help out at the clinic.  And he finds inspiration these athletes.

“It`s pretty amazing, I mean you look at a guy like Anthony that he just got his amputation, and he`s already taken part in summer and winter sports clinics, so it`s pretty poignant,” Lujan said.

A lot of these guys were natural born competitors before they were injured.  Now, maybe they can't move mountains.  But they're quickly learning how to conquer them.

A total of 29 disabled veterans from Colorado took part in the clinic - training in events from skiing to scuba diving.  And we'll introduce you to another Colorado competitor in our Home from War segment next Monday night.

To learn more about the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, click here: http://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/wsc/index.asp

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