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MOUNT SNOW, VT January 8, 2012—Fifty-five children from across the country, all disabled and many with life-threatening illnesses, were treated by Mount Snow and AbilityPLUS to a day of skiing/riding that truly was inspirational for every participant. The trip to Mount Snow Sunday was arranged and coordinated by Kids of Courage a non-profit organization that arranges adventure experiences for people with severe, life-threatening physical impairments.
The children arrived Sunday by bus with their medical support team, volunteers and family members. They were greeted at the Grand Summit Hotel ballroom by Mount Snow and AbilityPLUS staff and volunteers, who within a matter of an hour had the children fitted with special adaptive ski and snowboard equipment, paired with volunteer instructors and on the trails at Mount Snow. For some, the trip to freedom on the slopes began as far away as San Diego and culminated with a day of skiing they had anticipated for months. The Kids of Courage gathered in New York City, then traveled by bus for an overnight Saturday in Springfield, MA and on to Mount Snow Sunday.
Mount Snow generously provides space at the ballroom of the Grand Summit, lift access and standard rental equipment to Kids of Courage. AbilityPLUS, which maintains a winter program at Mount Snow serving individuals with disabilities from throughout the Northeast, provides all adaptive equipment and instructors. Kids of Courage partners with AbilityPLUS and Mount Snow because together they have the capacity and expertise to handle a group as large, and requiring as intensive support, as Kids of Courage participants. It is the second year Kids of Courage has visited Mount Snow.
“There’s no better way to describe how much this means to these kids. You have to see in their eyes and hear through their shouts of sheer joy what skiing and riding at Mount Snow brings to their very challenged lives,” said AbilityPLUS, AbilityPLUS Director of Programs. “Seeing children with ventilators and others attached to oxygen tanks enjoying a day on the mountain is incredibly inspirational for all of us who team with Kids of Courage to make this day possible for these kids.”
“Not only is this something the kids look forward to all year, we know it can have a major positive impact on their medical situations,” said Dr. Stuart Ditchek, Medical Director and Co-Founder of Kids of Courage. “It gives them something to look forward to, something to fight to achieve. We’re so very grateful to Mount Snow and AbilityPLUS to make this happen for these kids.”
Four adaptive-equipped tour buses and a caravan of vehicles started arriving at Mount Snow midmorning Sunday and by noon each child was outfitted with gear, paired with three AbilityPLUS volunteer coaches/instructors and were headed for the hill. From bi-skis and outriggers, to snowboards with special adaptive features, the kids were able to leave their wheelchairs behind and experience the unbridled spirit, joy and freedom of alpine skiing and riding. Some headed back out for a second round of fun after resting in the ballroom and enjoying a specially prepared buffet lunch. Because of their fragile conditions, most could only spend 30-to-45 minutes at a time outdoors on the snow.
By 4 o:clock, the buses had been reloaded with kids, gear, and memories and inspiration that will carry all until next year.
KIDS OF COURAGE – 2012
In the early morning hours of Sunday, January 8, the crispness of the Vermont morning reflected the early sun as it broke its way across the mountains. Today was the day that had been in extensive planning for the past year. The organizational prep was to be tested today. We were putting the final stages together to meet, greet and share our love of the snow with 55 children and young adults with an incredible array of life threatening disabilities from a group named “KIDS OF COURAGE”. Many of the disabilities were so rare that most of us had never heard of them, even with our many years of experiences serving those in this special community of very special people. Their goal was to get on the snow, something that for many, if not most, was only a vision in their minds that only other people could do. They were truly KIDS OF COURAGE (www.kidsoc.org).
After some incredible planning and organizing and reorganizing and adapting and adapting again, the work of AbilityPLUS was about to be unveiled. On Saturday, us assigned her teams and crews of volunteers moved 200 pairs of skis, 14 snowboards and boots that we had name tagged and tied together along with 12 bi-skis, 8 mono’s, 16 pair of outriggers and countless other accessories, adaptive equipment, hats, goggles, helmets, foam and duct tape over to the Grand Summit Hotel Ballroom that was provided to us, very generously, along with the skis, boards and lift tickets by the great people of the Mount Snow Resort.
The group arrived with their individual counselors, their medical and dietary and support staff, in 3 busses, at the Grand Summit Hotel at 10:30 am Sunday morning, eager to go… all with smiles on all their faces. They were all pumped full of adrenalin and couldn’t wait to get out on the mountain. Inside the building were over 100 volunteers from AbilityPLUS at Mount Snow, Attitash, Northeast Passage, BART Center at Bromley, friends of friends, family members, members of the AbilityPLUS Board of Directors and it’s Executive Director, David Hauser, all gathered and waiting for their arrival. The volunteers had come in early, set up the equipment, assembled into their designated teams, read through their info folders and planned their strategies of how to get their students geared up and ready to go. For some it would be 3 or 4 runs and some others 1 or 2. Whatever it was going to be, we were all ready to keep them smiling and have them go home after day of joy… and we were incredibly successful at accomplishing just that. The smiles, tears of joy and expressions of sincere gratitude were on every face in that room. The enthusiastic cheers of joy that they exhibited were felt by all and waves of excitement filled the air.
And then we went out and skied and rode the mountain with these very special people and shared their joy. I was very fortunate to have the assistance of the Temporino family, friends of the program who came up to lend a hand, Richard, Anthony and Sam. We headed out first with Jessica from Maryland and we kept looking for the black bear that was sighted on the trail. We never saw the bear, thankfully, but we bi-skied and had a great time. We then went out with Yaakov who had never been out skiing and finally got Sam out for his ride. The smiles on their faces told the story of the day.
This was an experience that one will never forget and I urge you all to come out and share this with us next year. We can always use your help.
This is what we do and who we are.
PSIA Adaptive Supervisor
AbilityPLUS@ Mount Snow
AbilityPLUS Board of Directors