Written by Nicole, Winter Intern
Speeding down the slopes on a sit-ski is not the most disguised way to get down the mountain. There is usually staring, and sometimes even pointing. But, once people realize how amazing the adaptive equipment is, they want to know about it.
For three days I worked with a 16 year old girl named Bela. She was the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. She has to use two walking sticks, and she takes a while to get from place to place. People stare. But she does not let that bother her. In fact, every time someone passed she said, “Happy New Year!” to them. She was so kind to everyone around her, even if they were somewhat rude or awkward. Her favorite thing was to wave to people while she was riding in the bi-ski. Sometimes people would give her weird looks because they either have never seen a bi-ski before, or was wondering why a stranger would be waving to them. I found this very inspiring, because even though people stared, she continued to be so kind to everyone around her. She even let me drive her in the bi-ski around so I could practice driving it!
Bela also got to tag along with a group of 7 year olds in a ski lesson. This was her favorite, because she was normal among them. They all were so intrigued by the bi-ski, and wanted to talk to her. They even got to learn how to ski better from her! It was awesome that Bela got to teach able-bodied kids to ski. It really made her day. The group was crushed when we had to part for lunch.
When I am skiing on the mountain in my own jacket, I am just like everyone else. But once I put on that bright green Challenge Aspen coat, I am recognized by everyone. Ski pros, lifties, ski patrol, and even guests come up and say “Hi”, even if I do not know them; they know Challenge Aspen. People will sometimes scream from the chairlift “Hi Challenge Aspen!”. It is wonderful to be a part of a community that appreciates Challenge Aspen so much. Even though people stare at the funny looking adaptive equipment, they will sometimes come up and ask what we do and are all about. And sometimes they will ask if they can volunteer! Which is amazing because anyone can get involved. This is my favorite part of my job, when we teach others that anything is possible.
I am challenging myself and anyone who reads this to be kind to everyone you meet or pass. It is hard, when you either stick out on the mountain or are a little different then everyone else. But people will be kind. I have had many people come up to me and ask about Challenge Aspen or give me compliments on the program. We can all learn so much from each other, and make many friends by simply being kind.