MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Marquette Mountain Resort is hosting The Adaptive Adventures Ski and Ride camp for veterans and persons with disabilities. This is the first year the resort is hosting the event, which is run by Adaptive Adventures Military Operations in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers. The three-day event offers free lift passes, lessons, and access to the highly specialized equipment needed for persons with disabilities to enjoy the slopes in a safe and supportive way.
Instructor Chris Werhane believes his program offers a level of physical freedom seldom found anywhere else.
“The gravity and the snow,” said Werhane. “Those two things combined really give a sense of freedom because you’re not inhibited by a walker or wheelchair or even, you know some of the normal things a pile of snow because you’re gliding over the snow. So on the snow using the equipment and getting that you really can get that feeling of freedom that you almost can’t get any other way.”
Adaptive Adventures will provide lessons with skilled instructors in adaptive skiing and snowboarding for people of all abilities and skill levels. Additionally, lunch, lift tickets, equipment rental, and any adaptive equipment is provided at no cost to veterans and their families. U.S. Army Reserve veteran Dee Paoli reflects on her first time on skis.
“Well, the first run he told me to go back and forth across the mountain, or the hill or whatever you call it, and I wasn’t too sure about it,” recalled Paoli. “And you know, just practicing the maneuver of turning right and left and using my feet, which I didn’t know that I could until I put them down and they worked, it made it easier each time I did it. So then I wanted the speed and then the speed came.”
Though skeptical at first, Paoli’s speed and confidence down the hill increased with every run. So much so, that after a couple of lessons, she was racing down the hill untethered from her instructor.
“It was really cool because he said, Chris said that if you stand up on there, that ski will drift,” said Paoli. “And I felt that a couple of times, and I thought, woohoo, it’s fun.”
Dee has some advice for anyone interested in getting out there and learning more about adaptive sports.
“It’s depressing not knowing when your total ability is gonna go if you can come up with joy, this just gives you a huge boost,” said Paoli. “So I know there’s a lot of people up where I’m from just going out to dinner or something to look forward to. But if you come here and you go have fun, and there’s all kinds of people supporting you here. It’s It’s amazing actually.”
To learn more about Adaptive Adventures and how you can become involved, please visit thier website at adaptiveadventures.org