The National Ability Center will honor vets at luncheon |

The National Ability Center will honor vets at luncheon

For nearly 30 years, the National Ability Center has helped thousands of people of all abilities enjoy outdoor recreation at its ranch at Quinn’s Junction.

A large contingency of those the center has served is comprised of veterans, said Becca Dupaix, events manager for the National Ability Center.

"These service men and women come home from active duty with particular needs in terms of adaptive recreation and therapy, and in the strengthening of bonds with family members," Dupaix told The Park Record. "So, we’ve built programs that empower these soldiers and designed them to fill their needs."

Activities include alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, aquatics, archery, cycling, sled hockey and indoor rock climbing.

The center also offers equestrian programs and an array of camps for youth and families.

In order to keep these services available to veterans and their families, the National Ability Center began hosting a Saluting Our Heroes luncheon fundraiser at the Grand America Hotel the week of Veterans Day.

This year’s luncheon will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from noon until 1:30 p.m.

The event will feature keynote speaker Gen. James Champion, founder of the Green Beret Foundation, an organization that provides veterans’ funding for organizations such as the National Ability Center.

In addition to Gen. Champion, Sarah Wade, a military wife, caregiver and injured-soldier advocate, will speak, Dupaix said.

"Sarah and her husband, Ted, have participated in a few programs at the center for the past couple of years," she explained. "They have a condo in Deer Valley and have enjoyed our programs and when we reached out to them, they were enthusiastic about speaking at the luncheon."

The event will also feature a short video that tells the National Ability Center’s story.

"The luncheon started out as a way to educate our supporters in the community, and it serves as a way to introduce ourselves to people who aren’t familiar with our military-focused programs," Dupaix said. "We wanted a forum to let people know about these programs and give people an opportunity to get more involved with us."

Admission to the luncheon is free, but the National Ability Center will ask for donations throughout the event.

"The entire cost of the lunch is underwritten by the National Ability Center sponsors," Dupaix said.

Those sponsors include BAE Systems Support Solutions, Fidelity Investments, Grub Steak, Monterey Technologies, OK3 Air, Ottobock, Workers Compensation Fund of Utah, Davinci Virtual, Industrial Associates of Utah, Control Medical Technology, Forge Consulting, the George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and Highmark Investments.

"We are grateful for their generous contributions, which makes it possible for anyone who is curious about the National Ability Center or our programs to attend," she said.

There will be more than 200 service members at the luncheon, including both veterans and those still on active duty, at the luncheon.

"We want to take that opportunity to honor them and thank them for their service and hopefully connect them with programs that will help them move forward," Dupaix said.

The money raised at the luncheon will help the center provide for these men and women.

"Last year, we had more than 800 service members and their families participate in our programs at the center. We had more than 47 military groups from 44 different states come to our facility for activities."

The costs for the different sessions vary.

"A full day of cycling instruction for two costs about $100, and one of our three-day couples retreats, which includes lodging, meals and activities, costs about $1,000," Dupaix said. "Obviously, the more people who participate, the more money it costs. We have a broad reach, so funding is vital.

"We offset costs through scholarships and sponsorships and we have partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project for the past few years to help cover some of the costs," she said. "But the National Ability Center, as a nonprofit organization working in Park City, relies on the support of donors to help these families."

"The partnership between the National Ability Center and the Wounded Warrior Project launched in 2011 and between Sept., 2011, and May, 2013, the National Ability Center has hosted 26 Wounded Warrior retreats, according to Claire Wiley, the National Ability Center’s outreach coordinator.

Also, the programs aren’t comprised of just cycling, skiing or climbing lessons.

"We really try to look at the programs we offer to these service men and women as holistic," she said. "For a lot of these families, these programs are opportunities to bond as well as learn how to interact, play with and enjoy each other’s company after their father, mother, son or daughter has suffered a major injury while on duty.

"Sometimes it’s all about getting them to communicate with each other again, because these family members have been separated for months."

(For additional events, please see the story titled "Other veteran events sponsored in part by the National Ability Center")

The National Ability Center will host its third annual Saluting Our Heroes luncheon fundraiser at the Grand America Hotel, 555 S. Main St. in Salt Lake City, on Wednesday, Nov. 13, from noon until 1:30 p.m. Although the luncheon is free, RSVPs are suggested. They can be made by visiting and filling out the form or by calling Becca Dupaix at (435) 200-0990 or emailing

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