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Using the Power of Communication Creating a Lifetime of Ability


Barrier Busters

Leonard Nelson

In a 2019 story on, Leonard was described as "Pilot, Vietnam vet, skier, farmer, husband, dad, granddad, jokester and pickleball fanatic — Leonard Nelson is a fascinating guy. He’s led a life of adventure, taking his last flight in the F4 Phantom in Vietnam on Christmas Day in 1966, then coming home to a career as a pilot for Delta airlines." 

In 2003, a ski accident left him with a spinal cord injury left him in a wheelchair.  by 2012, Leonard was introduced to pickelball at the Apex Center where he now plays nearly daily.


Betty Grandquist

Betty Grandquist was executive director of the Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging and a member of the Iowa AARP Executive Council.  In 2009, she received the first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award at Iowa Governor’s Conference on Aging. She is the former director of the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs and has spent the past 21 years directly involved in improving the quality of life for older Iowans.

Betty survived polio as a child, trained as a registered nurse, and earned a masters degree in social work.  After she retired at the age of 80, Betty was appointed by Iowa’s Governor to chair of the state’s Commission on Aging. 

She served in that capacity for ten years until March of 2017.  

Vital Friends

Alan Schauf, Founder

Al owns and runs a small farm in Cheney,

Kansas. Al and Rusty have been bestfriends for more than 50 years. He frequently visits Denver and always keeps informed and

participates in VIA activities.

In Memoriam

Yvonne Dowlen
(July 5, 1925-May 2, 2016)

“Well! Hello there!” Yvonne Dowlen chirped through a broad smile that along with the glint and wrinkles were a picture of happiness, wisdom, and vitality. Bob Jones, Apex Ice Arena Manager, informed me the 84 year old skating legend had coached another amputee who achieved a full loop jump, so I was both anxious and enthusiastic to meet her. The moment we made eye contact the anxiety melted away like ice on pavement at noon in July, and a lifetime friendship took root.

Yvonne Dowlen Ice Skating

Yvonne inspired those who had the blessing of her friendship. She gave us bright hopes for the future and supported our dreams. Ice is, by nature, cold and unfriendly. Skating culture often reflects that nature. Yvonne's presence during the public skate time created a warm, welcoming and safe space. When a crowd gathered in one spot on the ice, Yvonne was at the center.

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