In a word, Jesse Murphree is a survivor. On Saturday, January 21 – Sunday, January 22 at Park City Mountain Resort, Jesse took one more step towards taking back his life after a devastating injury in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Jesse used the power of adaptive recreation to reclaim a part of his life he used to know.
Jesse is a 24 years old and from Broomfield, CO. He is also a veteran, with a bilateral above the knee amputee who has had over 54 surgeries, countless hours of physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy. Like many mountain kids, he grew up skiing and snowboarding. According to Jesse, whether it was ‘hucking his body off of a kicker in the park, riding off the rocks/cliffs, or just gliding on fresh powder, riding in the mountains was his peace on earth.’
After the summer of '05, Jesse made the difficult decision to join the U.S. Army. He was eventually deployed to a remote location up in northeastern Afghanistan called the Korengal Valley, said to be one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan and where the famous documentary Restrepo was filmed. In December of 2007, after being stationed there for around 9 months, Jesse was severely injured as a result of a Russian anti-tank mine and a 120 artillery shell. He was airlifted out by helicopter and flat lined multiple times on the way to help. His injuries included a shattered arm, internal injuries, minor burns, multiple amputations, and traumatic brain injury.
Once stabilized, Jesse started a long process of rehabilitation and recovery of his mind, body and spirit. Today, Jesse’s own self assessment is one of high personal power, resiliency and strength. “I am the best that I have ever been. I now believe I am ready to get back on the snow and not only enjoy the mountain again but also overcome the setbacks that my injury had given me. I think about the mountains nearly every day and just want to be able to be with my friends and next to my little brother and teaching him how to board. “
Thanks to collaboration between the National Ability Center (NAC) and the film The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising, Jesse’s dream was realized. Jesse worked with NAC adaptive instructors and staff at Park City Mountain Resort to realize his dream. Gail Loveland, Executive Director for the National Ability Center says, ”Jesse is a true inspiration for us all. He has had so many opportunities to give up, but he is resolved to persevere and against all odds.” The NAC’s team of expert staff and volunteers will provide programs to Jesse and more than 400 other veterans this upcoming year.
“It is an incredible honor to be given the opportunity to help those who have sacrificed so much for our country and our freedoms” said Loveland.
This event was made possible through a contest put on by Producer, Director Kurt Miller in association with the Sundance Film, The Movement. The Movement highlights 5 individuals from all walks of life who have faced their respective disabilities and found the inspiration to overcome many obstacles. Through skiing each of them has discovered or rediscovered the freedom of movement. Kurt Miller and stars from The Movement will join Jesse on the slopes of Park City from 11am – 2pm Saturday, January 20th. Together they will all continue to conquer whatever mountain they are up against.
“Every time I overcome an obstacle it makes me feel a little bit better knowing that I'm still going and I'm doing it for my buddies that use to tear it up on the mountain that passed away.” Jesse Murphree.
About National Ability Center:
The National Ability Center is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization that provides recreational and therapeutic activities for people of all ages and abilities. The National Ability Center offers more than a dozen adaptive programs throughout the year including horseback riding, alpine and Nordic skiing, cycling, and sled hockey. Learn more about the NAC at www.DiscoverNAC.org.
About The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising
In 2004 Rick Finkelstein was paralyzed in a ski accident on Aspen Mountain. With a severed spine and severe internal trauma, he wasn't expected to live. Six years, nine surgeries, and a lifetime of rehab later, cameras captured his dramatic return to Aspen. Even with the latest gear, expert coaching, and mentorship from the sport's pioneers, Rick faced a daunting challenge with many risks and no guarantees. Rick's friend, witness to the crash: 'It wasn't until later that I completely broke down. You realized that it's just so fragile.' 'Our movement started with the word never. 'You'll never walk again... You'll never see... You'll never live to age five.' Never? Our heroes refused to accept that word.' Narrated by Robert Redford and Warren Miller. Director Kurt Miller.
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