By Jeff Martin 

Chuck Richardson is looking forward to Saturday like he does every year.

Richardson started the Phoenix Adaptive Program in 1996 at HoliMont as a means to teach skiing and snowboarding to youth and adults with various disabilities. The public is welcome to watch teams and individuals compete in four levels of the Phoenix Adaptive Races beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Each year, the Phoenix Adaptive Program and HoliMont hosts the “Rise to the Challenge” Race and Awareness Day. Now in its eighth year and open to the public, the event celebrates youth, the spirit of learning and the desire to achieve even when physical disabilities make accomplishment much more of a challenge.

Wendy Frank, Snow Sports director at HoliMont, said the annual event attracts racers from both the United States and Canada. Racers begin at different locations and complete short and long courses. Following the races, an award ceremony will be held on Saturday at 2:45 p.m.

“It’s a great event and it becomes more popular every year,” Frank said.

In 2010, the adaptive race brought in more than 80 adaptive racers from five different adaptive programs.

This year, a team of Wounded Warriors (disabled veterans) will participate in two days of clinic training, recreational skiing and race in the event. Richardson said this year HoliMont will host wounded warriors from a chapter in Columbus, Ohio, who began rolling into town Wednesday night to enjoy their time in Ellicottville

“We’re hoping to attract even more warriors next year,” he said. “We want to establish this program at HoliMont for many years to come. We’re excited to have them this year.” Described as a “trial run,” HoliMont’s hosting of the Wounded Warrior program this year is meant to show the community how popular it is throughout the nation. It is Richardson’s dream that HoliMont will attract as many warriors as they can as the years go by.

“It’s always a great time to see who shows up,” he said.

For more information, call (716) 699-8159.

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