National Ability Center uses sport, recreation to empower people


PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – For an organization like the National Ability Center which is devoted to empowering people of all abilities through sport, recreation, and outdoor activities, there’s no better place to call home than the Wasatch Mountains near Park City and Deer Valley.

The NAC offers a wide variety of programs year-round geared toward building self-esteem, confidence and life skills among individuals of all abilities.

“Our participants are fairly diverse,” says Kevin Stickelman, CEO of the National Ability Center. “Everything from military veterans who have come back with a combat wound or injury, all the way through to kids on the autism spectrum, people with physical disabilities, wheelchair users, developmental disabilities, cognitive disabilities. It really runs the full gamut of all sorts of different abilities out there.” 

Activities include alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, horseback riding, hippotherapy, indoor rock climbing, swimming, archery, sled hockey, cycling, water-skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, and challenge course activities.

Chris Biggins is a member of the National Ability Alpine Competitive Team. He trains in Utah at NAC for about four months each year. Biggins has cerebral palsy which affects the muscle spasticity in his legs, making them feel very tight and stiff.

“When I first started getting into skiing, I was watching the Sochi Paralympics with my college roommate saying ‘OK, maybe I can give that a shot, I ski sometimes,’ it was more like just a thought, like wouldn’t that be great,” Biggins said. “Then I came to NAC and now it’s like, that’s what we’re training for, that’s what we’re going to make happen.”

In 2017, Splore joined the National Ability Center on its mission to provide additional adaptive recreational and sporting adventures including river rafting, snowshoeing, climbing, Nordic skiing throughout Utah. 

Founded in 1985, the NAC is a non-profit organization that is united around a collective vision to inspire individual achievement and create a global impact for people of all abilities.

The National Ability Center provides high-quality, inclusive programs to individuals and families of all abilities and backgrounds including those in need of financial assistance. 

“We have never had to turn down a scholarship applicant and our motive is to never have to say no to somebody who wants to come here (NAC) and take part in our programs,” Stickelman said.

“With the NAC and the donors we have, we’re able to get this world-class training at a price that is actually reasonable. I’m getting world-class training at a not world-class price,” Biggins said.

To learn more about the National Ability Center, visit

Upcoming Event/Fundraiser: 

  • Red, White & Snow – March 7-9, 2019 (Three-day wine, culinary and ski event in Park City.)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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