Renown Hosts Adaptive Sports Day for All Abilities at Sky Tavern RASE Event

By: Helen Bolstad

August 16, 2021

Renown Alumni Recreation Therapy Program Sports Extravaganza

Despite the challenges of a pandemic, the Renown Rehabilitation Hospital continues to help their patients thrive outside of the hospital walls. On July 31, 2021, they hosted the first-ever Renown Alumni Sports Extravaganza, or RASE, a day focused on adaptive sports for all abilities. “Sports and recreation have a unique way of breaking down emotional barriers,” states Jared Worchel, DO, MS.

The alumni used their skills on a climbing wall, Frisbee golf, archery, an obstacle course and bag toss. Over 20 people spent the day cruising the first adaptive mountain biking trail in the Tahoe region.

“Having old friends meet up and seeing new friendships form had to be the highlight of the weekend,” says Shaun Stewart Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with Renown Rehabilitation Hospital. “RASE was a great way to learn new methods to improve outdoor recreation engagement from both participants and the many programs involved.”

Dr. Worchel agrees, “The smiles really make it worth it, and we even saw several touching moments with tears of joy when participants completed a task and finally felt like they were getting past their injury, mentally, after years of being so focused on recovery.”

Adaptive Climbing and Camping

One touching moment came on the adaptive climbing wall. Cassie Firchau, an occupational therapist at Renown, recalls a rehab alumni who had never been on a climbing wall (pre or post injury) conquering the wall. “Everyone was cheering him on. I was impressed with how he used the ascending pull up bar to get up the wall,” she remembers.

Mark Wellman, the founder of No Limits, provided the climbing wall. “I had heard of Mark, but I had no idea that he climbed El Capitan only a few years after his spinal cord injury,” says Cassie. “Having him at the event was a great opportunity to learn how to stay active and enjoy the things you love, no matter the circumstance.”

After dark, the event continued with a DJ spinning hits followed by overnight camping. That evening Shaun Stewart had the chance to talk to one of the alumni. “He spoke on how he was nervous about camping and how it would go in a new campground. He said that he was happy for an opportunity to practice with our group prior to going out on his own,” remarks Stewart. “Knowing that this event can help create opportunities even outside our events is great to know.”

Adaptive camping activities allow all abilities to not only enjoy nature, but also connect. “We also saw a lot of interaction between the participants themselves, sharing their journeys with each other during the down times which was possible with the extended format,” explains Dr. Worchel. “Overall it was an overwhelming success and we are already looking forward to next year.”

Northern Nevada's Adaptive Sports Community

Not only did the Renown Rehab alumni come together at RASE, but so did the greater northern Nevada community. Along with the hard work of the Renown Rehabilitation employees, the City of Reno Adaptive and Inclusion Programs, Wasting Arrows, Disable Sports Eastern Sierra, No Limits, and High Fives Foundation, provided support and equipment for the alumni. “It was so great to see multiple groups, volunteers and non-profits collaborating to support alumni participants to live life to the fullest, and to experience outdoor recreation in such a dynamic way,” states Josh Patterson, Supervisor of Rehab Therapy Services at Renown Health.

"The City of Reno is so grateful for this sponsorship to bring together new and old Renown alumni to learn and encourage each other. There were many firsts this weekend, and we look forward to future participation in City of Reno Adaptive programs,” says April Wolfe, CTRS, City of Reno Parks and Recreation.

For more information on future alumni adaptive events, please email: shaun.stewart@renown.org.