Bachelor of Arts
Mesa College, 1977
Santo "Sandy" received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services from Mesa College in 1977. He began his government and public service career working at the Collbran Job Corp Center. There he mentored underprivileged youth and coached the Center's softball team which had not won a game in 14 years, to a Grand Junction city championship.
In 1980 Sandy began his career as a Recreation Therapist at the Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Grand Junction Colorado. There he developed the concept of utilizing adaptive skiing and winter sports as an innovated form of rehabilitation. He was instrumental in the development of the Powderhorn adaptive ski program and single-handedly built what is now the largest adaptive ski program of its kind in the world today, The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. This event has taught thousands of profoundly disabled veterans how to ski and has produced a number of national, world and Paralympic champions.
A leader in the field of Recreation Therapy Sandy has received numerous awards including: the 1988 Air Force Association's VA employee of the year, the 1990 Colorado Lieutenant's Governor's Award, in 1991 inducted into the National Healthy American Fitness Leaders Association, in 1994 awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs Olen E. Teague award - the highest commendation awarded to individuals working with combat wounded veterans, in 1995 received the Veterans of Foreign Wars Outstanding VA Healthcare Provider award, in 1996 selected as one of 5 exemplar individuals in the United States to attend the first historic Surgeon Generals report on Physical Activity and Health. A graduate of the Department of Veterans Affairs Leadership VA class in 2000 and in 2005 was the recipient of the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the highest honorary award that the Department of Defense can bestow to a private citizen.
He works closely with the United States Olympic Committee in the development of disabled veteran athletes for Paralympic competition. Sandy and his work have been publicized in numerous magazines, newspapers and periodicals and has been featured on the Sunday Morning Charles Karult Show, the Travis Tritt tribute video to the spirit of the Disabled American Veteran and a week long series on MSNBC. Sandy's parents and 2 sisters reside in Grand Junction and he is the proud father of Derek, Ashley and Nicole.