Empowering Ability Since 1985 - National Ability Center

Historical Timeline

1985

Founded as Park City Handicapped Sports Association (PCHSA) by Meeche White and Pete
Badewitz in their kitchen. They taught ski lessons through a grant from the Disabled American
Veterans of Utah. The idea to start Park City Handicapped Sports Association came after Pete and
Meeche’s experience as ski instructors for individuals with disabilities in Colorado. Seeing the
success they were having there, they decided to look around the United States for an area that had
both high need for an adaptive program and the population with which it could grow. The decision
was Salt Lake City. Park City Mountain Resort was chosen as the base area thanks to its reputation
for high quality teaching terrain.

1985

Meeche served as Chief of Race for the International Special Olympics Winter Games Alpine
Venue in Park City.

1987

The first community fundraiser was held; a tennis tournament to support to expanding the
mission.

1987

Park City Handicapped Sports headquarters moved from Peter and Meeche’s home to a small
300 sq. ft. office at the base of the Park City Mountain Resort.
1988: Park City Handicapped Sports Association hosted its first “Learn to Ski” alpine skiing event
which consisted of instructor training followed by hands on instruction of people with disabilities.
Over three hundred people attended. The summer cycling program began and the first outdoor
camping trip was planned.

1989

First Huntsman Cup competitive Alpine Ski Race. Equestrian program began.

1990 & 1991

Meeche traveled to Korea on an exchange program to teach disabled skiing.

1992

Meeche took a team of six Special Olympians to Schladming, Austria for participation in the
International Special Olympic Winter Games Invitational. This was the first time in the history of
Special Olympics that American athletes had traveled outside the United States of America.

1992

National Ability Center received its first federal grant to expand programs and buy sports
equipment.

1993

Coaches from Poland stayed for a 6 week internship at the National Ability Center which led to
the establishment of “START” a year round disabled sports program in Poland.

1993

Meeche went to Austria with the Special Olympics team. Meeche’s title for that trip was Special
Olympics Team USA Head Coach.

1995

Ski Center and National Ability Center operation offices moved from David Holland’s to its
current “temporary building” (the trailer) at the base of Park City Mountain Resort.

1996

26 acres of land were donated anonymously at Quinn’s Junction on the eastern edge of Park
City.

1996 – 2002

National Ability Center took six trips to Spain after Meeche met Jorge DeLeza, a high
level injury paraplegic while he was learning to ski at National Ability Center. Jorge fundraised for
the first team of clinicians to travel to Spain to provide adaptive instructor trainings and programs.
Fundacion Deporte y Desafio was born and still provides year round disabled sports programs.

1997

The road to the ranch site was built due to the generosity of Geary Construction and the
outdoor riding arena was constructed by volunteer welders with the steel pipe donated by Exxon.

1997

Meeche served as Alpine Race Coordinator for the International Special Olympics Winter
Games in Squaw Valley.

1998

The main sun shelter was constructed due to the generosity of Questar.

1999

The ropes course, indoor riding arena and barn were constructed. All the poles for the ropes
course were donated by Rocky Mountain Power along with the drilling and placement of the poles.
MD Barnes built the barn and arena at a generous discount.

2000

Meeche traveled to Italy taking a team of three beginning ski racers to participate in an
introductory ski race. Later that year she traveled to Italy again to present at a conference to promote
disabled sports in Italy. As a result the program of Sportabili continues to provide year round
disabled sports programs.

2001

Bronfman Family Recreation Center & Ranch was dedicated and the headquarters of the
National Ability Center moved from the Ski Center into the Program Services Building. The ropes
course sun shelter was built due to the generosity of Rocky Mountain Power.

2001-2002

Meeche White served as the ADA Manager with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee in
preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

2002

The Lodge was completed and housed officials from Budweiser during the Olympic Games.

2003

The bobsled team started. Meeche serves as “Referee” for the Advanced Alpine Course at the
International Special Olympics Winter Games in Toronto Canada.

2006-2009

International outreach went to Thailand after National Ability Center staff solicited input
from schools for individuals with disabilities from countries around the world. Thailand showed
high need and high response resulting in a solid partnership with the Srisangwan School in Chiang
Mai and the Redemptorist Center in Pattaya.

2008

The National Ability Center bobsled team beat the Jamaican bobsled team.

2008

The National Ability Center received two federal grants; one for program expansion in
Thailand and the other to purchase new National Ability Center vehicles and transportation for
participants with disabilities and their families from the Salt Lake Valley to the National Ability
Center.

2008

After 23 successful years at the helm of the National Ability Center making her vision into a
reality, co-founder, Meeche White, retired.

2008-2009

The competitive snowboard program began. This team trained in conjunction with the Park
City Snowboard Team. The competition program manager position was created with assistance from
the United States Olympic Committee Paralympic Division.

2009

During the economic recession, the National Ability Center remained responsive to the
changing economic environment by focusing on core programs and activities. That year lessons
decreased from 19,000 lessons in 22 programs to about 17,000 lessons in 15 different programs.

June 2010

Gail Loveland joined the National Ability Center as the Executive Director. She is focused
on continuing to provide quality programs and services and while seeking new ways to sustainably
develop and grow the National Ability Center.

October 2010

The National Ability Center returned to its roots serving veterans and members of the
Armed Forces. In less than one year National Ability Center military programs grew by 400 percent
and grew national attention including visits from Senator Hatch, Congressman Bishop and
Congressman Lujan as well as several key members of the United States Army Command.

October 2011

The National Ability Center Equestrian Program receives Premier Accreditation from
the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horseman Ship (P.A.T.H.).

March 2012 & 2013

The National Ability Center hosted the United States Paralympic Alpine
Nationals, technical events.

January 2013

International Grant: Mexico.

March 2014

Three National Ability Center staff traveled to Sochi, Russia to represent and cheer for
the 18 athletes with ties to the organization competing at the Paralympic Games. Of the 18 athletes, 10 were members of Team USA, 8 were representing their home countries of Chile, Mexico, Turkey, Belgium, Spain, Australia, Russia and Ukraine. Five athletes were Alpine, one Sled Hockey and 12 Snowboard. It was an exciting event to be a part of with the United States of America Sled Hockey team taking Gold over Russia and the debut year for Snowboard X.

Paralympics Medals Won by National Ability Center Athletes:
• Greg Shaw
o 2010 Gold Medal United States Sled Hockey• Danelle and Rob Umstead
o 2010 Bronze Medal Downhill
o 2010 Bronze Medal DH/SL Super Combined• Stephani Victor
o 2002 Bronze Medal Downhill
o 2006 Gold Medal Slalom
o 2010 Silver Medal Giant Slalom, Silver Medal Slalom
o 2010 Gold Medal Super Combined• Chris Wadell
o 1992 Silver Medal Giant Slalom, Silver Medal Slalom
o 1994: Gold Medal Downhill, Gold Medal Slalom, Gold Medal Giant Slalom, Gold Medal
Super-1998: Gold Medal Downhill, Silver Medal Slalom, Silver Medal Super-G
o 2002: Silver Medal Downhill, Bronze Medal Slalom, Bronze Medal Giant Slalom

• Maggie Behle
o 1998 Bronze Medal, 2012 Games

• Muffy Davis
o 2012 Gold Medal Cycling Individual H1-3 road race
o 2012 Gold Medal Cycling H1-4 Team Relay
o 2012 Gold Medal Cycling H1-2 individual time trial, 2014 Games

• Greg Shaw
o 2014 Gold Medal US Sled Hockey

• Danelle and Rob Umstead
o 2014 Bronze Medal Super Combined

• Keith Gabel
o 2014 Bronze Medal Adaptive Snowboard Cross

Paralympic Athletes (non medalist):
2010 Games:
Erik Bayindirli
Matt Perkins2014 Games:
Snowboarding:
Team USA: Cristina Albert, Heidi Jo Duce, Megan Harmon, Nicole Roundy,Tyler Burdick,
Dan Monzo

International Athletes: Denis Colle (Belgium), Igor Ivanov (Russia), Ben Tudhope (Australia),
Aitor Puertas (Spain), Ivan Osharov (Ukraine)

Alpine:
Team USA: Stephani Victor

International Athletes: Arly Velasquez (Mexico), Erik Bayindirli (Turkey), Santiago Vega
(Chile)

 

Summer 2014

The National Ability Center adds adaptive Mountain Biking to its offerings.

Summer 2015

No Barriers USA hosted it’s annual No Barriers Summit in Park City, UT with the National Ability Center as it’s host. The Summit brought hundreds of people with disabilities, veterans and adaptive practitioners to the mountains of Park City for a series of adaptive sport clinics, art, speakers and more.

September 2015-September 2016

Celebrating it’s 30th anniversary, the National Ability Center took this year to look back a successes and thank the donors, community partners, volunteers and families that have played an important role in growing the organization from it’s roots in 1985 to now serving 4,100 individuals with 28,000 experiences each year.

In 2016, Meeche White, the organization’s founder, also brought a group  of staff and interns to Thailand where they trained coaches and athletes in adaptive sports. That June, the Thai group visited the National Ability Center in Utah for the No Barriers Summit.

 

Download a PDF of the National Ability Center’s Adaptive Sport History.

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