2005 Hal O’Leary Inspiration Award Recipient – Sherri Connell
The awards were presented by the Colorado Rockies on Coors Field. It was a packed house with hundreds of people being inspired by stories of people persevering amidst challenges!
From the Award Program:
Sherri Connell has made it her purpose to support individuals with “invisible disabilities”: those people without outward signs of illness but who struggle with it every day. After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 27, Sherri wrote pamphlets and created a website with information about how her family and friends could better understanding her new life challenges. Little did she know that her words would touch the hearts of people around the world who were suffering from the same challenges.
In fact her husband’s non-profit organization, the Invisible Disabilities Association (formerly Advocate) developed a website (www.InvisibleDisabilities.org) that receives more than 120,000 hits each month. “Even if I were healed tomorrow, I would not return to my career,” says Sherri. “I would continue to dedicate my life to speaking out for those living with disabilities. It is not only my passion; it is my purpose.”
ABOUT HAL O’LEARY:
Mr. O’Leary is the founder of the National Sports Center for the Disabled. In 1970, O’Leary was a salaried ski instructor at Winter Park when he volunteered to give a one-time ski lesson to 23 children with amputations. That ski lesson turned into the NSCD. Today, the center annually teaches 3,000 participants sports ranging from downhill skiing and snowshoeing to rafting, biking and horseback riding. O’Leary has been a leader and an inspiration to many, as he continues to have day-to-day involvement in the Center.
Named one of the Best 100 Things to Happen to Skiing by SKI Magazine, O’Leary coached the U.S. Disabled Olympic Team, was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1970 and was awarded one of only six Professional Ski Instructors of America Lifetime Achievement Awards. Hal is also nationally recognized for pioneering the adopt-a-ski program at Winter Park Resort in Colorado.