Therapeutic Adventures Allows Disabled To Ski

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

Imagine not being able to walk or see, but wanting to enjoy the ski slopes at Massanutten. This is the story of how one organization has been making it happen for more than 30 years.

One example, 11 year old Ryan Flynn has cerebral palsy and is legally blind. Despite his disabilities on Sunday he was flying down the Massanutten slopes with incredible dexterity. A year ago his parents let him join Therapeutic Adventures despite some apprehension.

"We don't call Ryan disabled," said mother Michelle. "We call him diff-abled. He's differently abled. When you have a child with different abilities you want to introduce them to things where they can be successful. There was a little big of nervousness, will he be able to do it?"

The answer proved to be a very loud yes. Ryan finally had a way to be an active young boy. He says it's all thanks to the program's founder Mark Andrews.

"It's a great feeling," said Ryan. "I've been doing this, kudos to Mr. Mark over there and the whole adaptive program. It's a great honor being out here."

"When you're sliding on that snow you get a new sense of balance," said Andrews about why the program succeeds. "Once you find your balance, then you can start making controlled movements in a way that you may not be able to otherwise do."

Nearly any disability can benefit from adaptive snow sports, all you need is the right equipment.

Paraplegic Doug Galica uses a mono ski which allows him to sit as he cruises down the powder. Injured in a hunting accident 15 years ago, he swears by the program as a way to overcome.

"I've met a lot of younger kids, that, in their situation it's nice for them to be able to get out and do stuff and still enjoy life and not let their disabilities get in the way of getting out here and having a blast," he said.

Many of the disabled skiers are so good they're able to tackle Massanutten's black diamond slopes with little effort.


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