From Slopes to Service: Laura Decker's Skiing Adventure with a Purpose

Welcome to the founder’s spotlight! Today, we're thrilled to shine a light on Laura Decker, one of the brilliant minds behind A Vacation Different. We recently caught up with Laura to hear all about her incredible volunteering stint at the 2024 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. And guess what? She dedicated her birthday week to it, spreading joy and community care through her love for skiing!

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Laura Decker teaching veterans skiing at the 38th Annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

Skiing Roots

Laura's connection with skiing goes way back—to the days when she was just a toddler. "I started skiing as soon as I could walk! I don’t even remember learning," she recalls, reminiscing about her early days on the slopes of Lake Tahoe, learning with her family. Skiing isn't just a hobby for Laura; it's a way of life, fueling her passion for adventure and the great outdoors. Now that she's rooted in Santa Fe, she takes advantage of all the powdery slopes at Ski Santa Fe!

Her journey with the clinic began with her husband Alec's involvement. "My husband volunteered a few times initially," she shares. "He couldn't make it this year, so we switched places! I have been volunteering with the Adaptive Sports Program in New Mexico for many years, but this was held in Colorado on a much grander scale." The experience left a mark on Laura, sparking a fire within her to contribute even more. For her, teaching veterans to ski isn't just about hitting the slopes; it's about empowering them to embrace new possibilities post-injury.

Empowering Veterans Through Skiing

The clinic is a weeklong event the VA puts on for disabled Veterans to show the Veterans possibilities for sports and recreation after injury and disability. Veterans and volunteers come from all over the country and Canada to participate in skiing, fly fishing, scuba diving, snowmobiling, curling, sled hockey, and so much more!

Reflecting on her time at the clinic, Laura shares tales of resilience and grit. "There are people who are newly disabled or injured, discovering possibilities available to them post-injury," she shared. These encounters profoundly impacted her, showing the unwavering strength and spirit of the veterans she met on the mountain.

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Winter Sports Clinic in full swing! A day of learning the slopes

Inspiration and Growth

Laura offers some golden advice for anyone considering volunteering: "Find something you love, and figure out a way to share that with other people." It's as simple—and powerful—as that!

Laura's journey didn't stop at giving back—it was also a path of personal growth. Witnessing the determination of the veterans she worked with reignited her passion for serving others, reminding her of the limitless resilience of the human spirit. She encourages everyone - especially her employees at AVD to get involved, to give back, and, in turn, see what we're capable of. 

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Veterans & Volunteers at the 38th Annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

AVD's Community Commitment

A Vacation Different holds a commitment to making a difference! Offering our vacation homeowners fresh wreaths during the holidays while supporting the Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico. This is a small yet festive tradition with a grand impact. Since 1985, the Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico (ASPNM) has been a pillar of local hope, offering therapeutic recreational activities to children and adults with disabilities. Today, ASPNM proudly offers various adaptive sports year-round, including skiing, snowboarding, watersports, river rafting, archery, rock climbing, and more. 

AVD's involvement with ASPNM is another example to our commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others in the Santa Fe community. And Laura? Laura is more than just a boss at AVD—she is a kind, generous leader who uses her love for skiing as a catalyst for change. Her story is a powerful reminder that the most incredible adventures aren't always found on the mountainside but within the hearts of those who dare to make a difference!

To learn about and get involved with either of these incredible organizations, please visit:

Adaptive Sports Program of New Mexico

National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic