U.S. Paralympic snowboarders draw hundreds of troops at Camp Casey

by USAG Red Cloud
U.S. Army

On Camp Casey in Dongducheon March 17, several hundred Soldiers turn out to meet visiting members of the U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding Team, which has been in Korea to compete in the Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. Four of the team's snowboarders along with a coach and several family members took seats at a table inside the Health and Human Performance Center to shake hands and chat with the Soldiers, and sign autographs for those who asked them to. The Soldiers seemed eager to meet the Paralympians and smiled and chatted easily with them. Some Soldiers later said they were excited by the visit and impressed by what they saw as the Paralympians' courage, skill and determination.

The team has been in Korea since March 4 and competed from March 10 through 16, winning numerous medals: in the snowboard cross event, two gold, two silver and two bronze; in the banked slalom event: three gold, three silver and one bronze. The group included four of the team's snowboarders: Noah Elliot, James Sides, Michael Spivey and Arlene Cohen, as well as one of the snowboarding team's coaches, Kep Koeppe, Spivey's wife Kris, and Cohen's spouse, Jorge and daughter Taylor. Sides and Spivey are former U.S. Marines who were wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Also traveling with the group was John Register, associate director of Paralympic Outreach and Development with the U.S. Olympic Committee. Register, a U.S. Army veteran of the Gulf War, won a Silver Medal in the Paralympic Long Jump during the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia.

The meeting with Soldiers began around 9:30 a.m. and ended around noon, with some 350 Soldiers filing through to meet the athletes. After meeting the Soldiers, the Paralympians went outside where an award ceremony was underway for Soldiers who had just completed a nine-mile road march called the "Bataan Death March Memorial," in 35-pound rucksacks. When the ceremony was finished the crowd remained while the Paralympians introduced themselves in turn, to cheers and applause from the troops. Before leaving Camp Casey they stopped at the USO and said hello to Soldiers there. Following the Camp Casey visit the Paralympians were scheduled to head to the Joint Security Area near Korea's Demilitarized Zone to meet U.S. Soldiers there.

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