Athletics & Recreation

Skiier Jamie Stanton latest recipient of Willy Schaeffler Scholarship

When Jamie Stanton learned he’d won the University of Denver’s Willy Schaeffler Scholarship, he was on his way to do something you might not expect a young man with just one leg to do.

“I was in my car picking up a friend to go wakeboarding,” says Stanton.

Actually, Stanton does a lot of things people wouldn’t expect. To him, disability is just a word—a word he’s defied every day of his life since he was 6 months old.

That’s when doctors amputated his right leg. He’d been born with a congenital birth defect called fibular hemimelia. The surgery made way for a prosthetic leg and the ability to walk—and so much more.

Walking, running, golfing, wakeboarding. Those are just for starters. In fact, Stanton has gone on to become one of the country’s best skiers. At Rochester Adams High School in Rochester, Mich., he competed in golf and skiing and captained both teams. In his junior and senior years, he won the Michigan Adaptive Sports Skiing State Championship. And in the national Huntsman Cup in Utah, he won the slalom and giant slalom to claim the overall championship.

All this while preserving a 3.5 grade-point average and balancing after-school athletics and significant community service, including work with AmpuTeam, Students Giving Back and Special Opportunities for Amputee Rehabilitation

Given his accomplishments, attitude and character, it’s not surprising that earlier this year Stanton was named the sixth winner of the scholarship that covers four years at DU and another year abroad. It’s named for Willy Schaeffler, often called America’s most successful ski coach. He coached the Pioneers to 13 NCAA championships from 1951–73, an NCAA record that still stands.

In addition to coaching the Pioneers and serving as alpine director for the 1972 U.S. Olympic ski team, Schaeffler created the first amputee ski program after visiting the Army’s Fitzsimmons Medical Center and witnessing the effects of the Vietnam War on returned soldiers. The program ultimately became the National Sports Center for the Disabled.

Stanton, who started at the University in September, says winning the scholarship will change his life.

“It reflects all my hard work. It also helped me figure out a way to attend a university and pursue my Paralympic skiing dreams at the same time,” he says. “I’m honored to be representing Willy Schaeffler. I plan to carry on his exemplary tradition through my academic performance and my Paralympic ski racing.”

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