The Board of Directors of Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) are proud to announce the acquisition of the Fern Creek Lodge in June Lake, California. The facility will be used as the home of a major expansion of DSES’s programs for military and veteran athletes, and will provide retreat-style adaptive sports programs year-round. After many years fundraising to create a National Wounded Warrior Center in Mammoth Lakes, the Board of Directors approved the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge in order to serve veterans with disabilities as they pursue thriving civilian lives.
The DSES capital campaign initiative for the National Wounded Warrior Center will come to fruition with the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge, however the name of the facility will change. The Center will be formally renamed the Jack & Kathy Copeland Center at Fern Creek Lodge. The name was selected by champions of the campaign, Ruth and Roger MacFarlane, who motivated a major donation from the Tambour Foundation. Roger MacFarlane stated, “The Tambour Foundation is proud to support Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Kathy Copeland has founded and created an organization of remarkable impact for so many people and the benefits are clearly demonstrated. As the organization grows and seeks to increase its capacity for servicemembers, it is exhilarating to be able to support their impact at such a crucial time.”
In the fall of 2020, DSES began searching for a new home for the facility after the original land from the nonprofit Mammoth Lakes Foundation was no longer available. After months of comparing land, facilities, and different locations in the Eastern Sierra, the organization is thrilled to acquire Fern Creek Lodge and begin the next phase of enhancing their commitment to veterans with disabilities as well as adaptive programming for people of all ages and backgrounds with disabilities. DSES will remain based at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and actively engaged in the greater Mammoth Lakes community, where opportunities for skiing, riding, mountain biking, and more will continue.
Fern Creek Lodge has a unique history and strong sense of place with a charming feel and natural setting, a seasonal creek, and open space backing up to US Forest Service land. The campus will provide eight independent cabins with multiple rooms and beds, a central lodge building, and an outdoor gathering place nestled among aspens with stunning views of Carson Peak and the Sierra Nevada. The retreat-style buildings and stunning environment provide the perfect location to offer a mix of programs and support a variety of individuals with disabilities and their families. All programming will include therapeutic outdoor recreation, and some programs will incorporate topics like education and vocational programs, wellness, and housing assistance.
A period of renovation for enhanced accessibility of the historic site will begin this winter and is expected to take less than a year to complete. The existing structures will provide flexibility with multiple cabin layouts with kitchens, gathering space, access to summer program areas, June Lake community amenities, and on-site storage. The organization expects to launch the first programs at the site in Summer 2022.
DSES Executive Director, Laura Beardsley, stated, “With the decision to move forward with the purchase of Fern Creek Lodge, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra committed to greatly expanding our physical assets as well as programing to support military service members and veterans with disabilities. This expansion affects all aspects of the organization and shifts the past years of fundraising for a National Wounded Warrior Center into a new phase which will include renovation of Fern Creek Lodge as a cross-functional facility and the base of expanded of military-focused programs.”
Founding Director, Kathy Copeland, stated, “I am humbled by the ecstatic support of donors, which was crucial in making this facility a reality for the individuals we support in their journey to learn, heal, and thrive with their new lives. Thank you to everyone who was part of this – from the bottom of my heart – for your generosity and determination. Our servicemen and women are heroes and the price they pay is great. We are here to support them!”
If you would like to be part of this exciting endeavor, please stay tuned for additional information, which will be broadcast through the organization’s website, social media channels, and email platform.
Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing adaptive sports and outdoor recreation experiences for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Based in Mammoth Lakes, CA, DSES strives to create exciting challenges, provide expert instruction, and rally the community to comfortably accommodate people with disabilities.
In 2007, DSES launched its first programs designed specifically for veterans and servicemembers with disabilities. DSES programs are designed to be inclusive, supporting both active duty and veteran service members of any age, from any branch of service, with any illness or injury, combat-related or not. DSES is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a different organization entirely. With the purchase of the Fern Creek Lodge, DSES will help countless others learn, heal, and thrive.
To learn more about Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra, visit www.DisabledSportsEasternSierra.org.