Challenge Aspen is an organic outgrowth of the individually conceived dreams of co-founders, Houston Cowan and Amanda Boxtel. Houston Cowan became interested in teaching blind people to ski in 1991 and was first introduced to the field through BOLD (Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) as a volunteer guide and instructor and later with Ed Lucks, who was a pioneer in developing adaptive teaching techniques and equipment. In 1994, Houston became a full-time Aspen resident, focused on the pursuit of his dream to make working with the disabled his life’s work.
Amanda Boxtel’s love of art and teaching children brought her to Aspen in 1988. While skiing on Snowmass Mountain in 1993 she took a tragic fall resulting in a broken back and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Amanda was forced to experience first hand, the personal courage required to regain her life and the activities seemingly lost to her after the fall. Throughout her road to recovery, she maintained a deep desire to continue to teach and work with children. Personal experience with disability gave Amanda a genuine understanding of the importance of creating greater access to the many recreational and creative opportunities in the Rocky Mountains for the disabled community. At the urging of mutual friends, Houston and Amanda met in 1994 to explore their shared vision, and Challenge Aspen was born.