National Sports Center for the Disabled

A nonprofit organization


The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) is a world leader in creating and providing adaptive outdoor recreation experiences. As one of the largest and most comprehensive providers of adaptive experiences, we use the power of innovation, recreation and Colorado’s great outdoors to improve access, opportunities and possibilities for people living with disabilities.

Our exhilarating adaptive outdoor experiences help participants make the very most of their passion, their talents and their aspirations. They discover a renewed sense of confidence, reignite the pure joy of play, and find motivation to try new things, meet new people and believe in their own abilities. With industry-leading adaptive equipment, renowned coaches, instructors and volunteers and unmatched mountain and metro programs, we change the perceptions of athletes of all levels and help them, and the world, #RethinkAbility.


"Today was my first time ever being in the snow on the slopes. It was so exhilarating. Snow sports seemed impossible since my injury. Getting on a ski bike was thrilling and made me feel more independent. My instructor was a female Veteran and I was so grateful to have her teaching me especially since this was my first time. I was much more comfortable with her and enjoyed the camaraderie with another veteran. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had through the NSCD." - Demecia, US Army Iraq Combat Veteran

"I was fortunate to be a first-time participant in the NSCD skiing program last winter. I have had multiple sclerosis for 22 years. Over 15 years ago, I stopped skiing-I fell more often and could not get up due to the weakness in my legs. Being able to ski again was a very moving experience. I have always loved doing active things outdoors, and believing I was unable to ski because of MS was one of the things I missed the most…so being able to ski again in such a beautiful place literally brought tears to my eyes. Quite honestly, now that 4 months have passed, I have found that I want to push myself even more at physical activities. If there are things I love to do, I am going to see if there is a way that I CAN do them, and seek them out more. I feel like I CAN do this, and didn't think that way before." - Betsy

"Sometimes society can bring you down even with a simple act of just's ski biking helped me get out and remind me there's a reason to live and gives me hope for tomorrow." - Joel, US Army Veteran

"This is Max's first year learning how to ride horses. From the beginning of his first lesson, he could not stop smiling. He talks about the horses all week. In addition, he talks about the trainers and the volunteers (who are incredible). He has learned the words trot, walk on and whoa!! He loves to trot. As a mother, I had no idea the program would work on so many different levels of Max's needs, like core work, letter recognition, manners, compassion, boundaries and focus. That's just to name a few. I can't wait until Fridays come and I can finally tell Max that yes, this is the day he gets to ride. To say the least, I am grateful for this opportunity to be able to offer this to my son." - Max's Mom

"Following my injury from a ski racing accident, NSCD gave me the opportunity to get back on the mountain. Learning to sit-ski with NSCD allowed me to enjoy the outdoors again and set the stage for my career as a three time Paralympic athlete. More importantly, my experience with NSCD empowered me to broaden my perceptions of what was possible for people with SCI. The self-assurance and joy I get from sit-skiing has enabled me to more confidently confront and overcome challenges that seem formidable. NSCD has been pivotal to my growth and success as a person and a professional." - Nick

"The tandem double bindings jump ski that is used for Nordic skiing is nothing short of a miracle because our athlete has trouble walking. His feet face outward when walking... but not in the binding. It keeps his legs strong and keeps him upright." - Anonymous Parent

"When I do things like kayaking with NSCD I feel like a regular person doing regular things. NSCD helps me make new friends who understand my challenges and they help me succeed." - Mike


The mission of the National Sports Center for the Disabled is to advance the power of people with all abilities through adaptive innovation and the joy of recreation and outdoor experiences.

Background Statement

The National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) was founded in 1970 when Hal O'Leary, a ski instructor at Winter Park Resort, volunteered to teach a group of children with amputations from Children's Hospital Colorado. Hal quickly discovered the great demand for a ski program for people with disabilities and became a pioneer in the field, creating innovative adaptive equipment and designing methodologies for teaching people with disabilities. In the years since Hal taught that first adaptive ski lesson, NSCD has grown into an internationally renowned adaptive outdoor recreation and competition program. The advent of improved technologies and refinement in understanding the needs of individuals living with disabilities has also guided the NSCD in creating more diverse and inclusive opportunities for children and adults with a disability. 53 years later the NSCD is Colorado's most comprehensive provider of adaptive outdoor experiences. We offer more programs, in more places, in more ways that change lives. With the core belief that everyone is able, and anything is possible, we use the power of adaptive innovation, recreation, and Colorado's great outdoors to transform lives, families and communities and create a world that celebrates each person's abilities.

Our mission is to advance the power of people with all abilities through adaptive innovation and the joy of recreation and outdoor experiences. To achieve this mission, the NSCD works to improve the lives of people with disabilities in two ways. First, the NSCD provides access to recreational and competitive adaptive sports in Colorado for people with all diagnoses, of all ability levels, and of all income levels. Second, the NSCD helps participants to achieve goals that have a long-term impact on their health, skills, and independence. A man with a spinal cord injury, for example, may have a goal of developing the upper body strength to transfer himself from wheelchair to sit ski without assistance. In another case, the parents of a child with autism may have a goal for their daughter to make a friend through the NSCD's rock climbing program. In both of these examples, as for every NSCD participant, the NSCD helps people with disabilities to work toward therapeutic goals that have a significant impact on their lives outside of the NSCD.

There continues to be a great need for the NSCD's programs. During an average week, people with disabilities are twice as likely to be physically inactive and nearly five times as likely to experience mental health challenges as people without disabilities, per reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The NSCD works to change these statistics for participants. NSCD instructors focus on ability rather than disability, giving all people access to the fun and freedom of outdoor sports while helping them to improve their skills, fitness, confidence, and wellbeing. At the National Sports Center for the Disabled we envision a world that celebrates each person's abilities. We use the power of adaptive outdoor recreation to help individuals living with disabilities, caregivers and communities rethink ability.

Organization Data


Organization name

National Sports Center for the Disabled

other names


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)



Recreation & Sports, Military & Veterans Organizations

Organization Size

Large Organization


Winter Park Resort PO Box 36
Winter Park, CO 80482


Empower Field at Mile High 1801 Mile High Stadium Cir Ste 1500
Denver, CO 80204

Service areas

Denver County, CO, US

Grand County, CO, US





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