PINE, Colo. (CBS4) – Staunton State Park is named after two Denver doctors from the early 1900s. Their healing legacy lives on at what’s now one of the most accessible state parks in Colorado. It’s the perfect place for Craig Hospital to host its first outpatient camping trip in Pine.
“There’s something different about being outdoors as opposed to being in the City of Denver,” said Chris Luna, “Blue skies, suns out. It is restorative. Just being able to come out on a beautiful day.”
For Luna, being outdoors is therapeutic, but a rock climbing fall left him needing more intensive therapy inside.
“I suffered a spinal cord injury at the T6 level. I have a complete spinal cord injury. Completely paralyzed. I use a wheel chair every day,” said Luna from the fishing dock at Davis Ponds. “I’m not having much luck this morning,” he laughed.
The fall did permanent damage to Luna’s body, but it couldn’t break his Colorado heart.
“I was able to think about the things I wanted to do and the things I wanted to experience. That’s what led me to seek out opportunities like this,” said Luna about Craig Hospital’s camp.
Campers were able to take part in activities like hiking, fishing and archery. Craig Hospital’s Certified Therapeutic Rec Specialist, Cody Blubaugh, says it’s therapy for the soul.
“We try to provide an opportunity for these folks to get back to doing the things they loved to do prior to injury,” said Blubaugh. “Hiking is still a possibility, fishing is still a possibility with an accessible dock, camping is still a possibility.”
Staunton State Park’s Track-Chair program makes trails accessible for those who don’t have the mobility on their own. The all-terrain, motorized wheel chairs help outpatients like Luna navigate the paths he once hiked on foot.
“This is their life. This what they’ve always enjoyed doing, and there’s no reason why they can’t continue doing it,” said Blubaugh. “We show them different adaptations and how things can work. They get to experience it firsthand. We help them problem solve. We show them it’s still a possibility. They can still do these things that fill them up and bring them joy,” said Blubaugh.
Luna hopes to inspire others who may have lost their passion for the outdoors following an accident that keeps them off their feet.
“You’re going to need time to process. You’re going to need to heal. But I think all of us at some point, we want to get back to the things that make us happy,” said Luna.
The Track-Chair program runs from June through October, depending on trail conditions. They can be reserved on a first-come basis for free.
LINK: Staunton State Park