For National Ability Center, Outdoor Retailer is a land of opportunity | ParkRecord.com

For National Ability Center, Outdoor Retailer is a land of opportunity

Amid the hundreds of fancy displays showing off the latest in ski technology or winter apparel, and the thousands of businesspeople wandering the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, is a small booth for a non-profit organization from Park City that is simply hoping to have its voice heard among the commotion.

For the National Ability Center, the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market — held this year from Thursday through Sunday — is a land of opportunity. The Park City-based organization provides recreational programs for people with disabilities, and the popular outdoor-industry trade show — the largest of its kind in North America — is rife with people who may benefit from the services or who can help the NAC further its mission.

Kassandra Lemons, marketing and outreach coordinator for the NAC, was one of the representatives staffing the organization’s booth at the trade show Thursday morning. She said the Outdoor Retailer, which has about 22,000 attendees, is one of the most important events of the year for raising awareness.

"The goal is just really to get some information out there," she said. "We want to let people know we’re here and available for them to come and recreate. I think oftentimes, we really hit home in Park City and the community knows us really well, but we want to extend our reach. We want to get across Salt Lake more and reach out to the people that have come from all over the world to the Outdoor Retailer. It’s such a rare opportunity for us to have such an audience. A lot of people don’t know about us who should know about us."

The National Ability Center attends the Outdoor Retailer summer and winter shows. In the summer, the event is full of a demographic that would be interested in the NAC’s cycling and equestrian programs. In the winter, people are blown away by the idea of adaptive skiing, which allows people with disabilities to hit the slopes.

While the NAC is well-known in Park City, people in the outdoor industry from other parts of the country are stunned to find out what the organization offers, Lemons said.

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"I think people are a little bit in awe," she said. "There aren’t a lot of organizations doing the things we do. A lot of the people here are buyers for companies or things of that nature, but they have a friend who has a disability and they know that person could benefit from our services, or they really want to get involved in helping to volunteer or something along those lines."

Being located in Park City gives the National Ability Center an advantage when it talks to people at the trade show, Lemons said. The cachet that comes with the town’s name has proven to be valuable in piquing the interest of those who stop at the booth.

"It’s kind of like real estate — it’s all location," she said. "That really is important. And we’ve been privileged to be in a community that is not only well-known for recreation but is so supportive of us. Every time we say Park City, people are like, ‘Park City, Utah!’ So it is definitely a benefit to be in Park City."