Guest editorial |

Guest editorial

Michael Kerby, Board President, National Ability Center

As our town wraps up another winter season, I want to share my gratitude on behalf of the National Ability for the honor of being part of a community where anything is possible through active involvement. As a provider of adaptive ski, snowboard and other recreational activities, we are grateful for the incredible support offered by this town, Park City Mountain and EpicPromise. The generosity of volunteers, donors and community partners like Vail Resorts has allowed us to impact countless lives for the better. Whether you gave your time, your talents, your partnership or your financial support, we can’t thank you enough. If you skied or snowboarded past the NAC Mountain Center, you can truly see the need for supporting the adaptive community locally and nationally.

Following are just a few testimonials from individuals who have been able to envision a new story for their lives through the National Ability Center’s ski and snowboard programs because of the support of Vail’s EpicPromise program and people like you.

Alma Steward: former program participant, current NAC instructor

It was 30 years ago I was injured in a motorcycle accident, leaving me paralyzed from the chest down. While I quickly got back to work and involved in wheelchair sports, outdoor recreation left me feeling dependent on others. Somebody suggested I try the NAC’s programs, and, through them, I was introduced to monoskiing. With the NAC’s equipment and instructors, I was able to find an entirely new sport I never knew I could do and I found the independence I was seeking . Because of the NAC, I discovered a world of recreation opportunities that might have been completely lost to me without them.

Hunter Behr: program participant with autism (quote by mom, Valery)

The NAC’s alpine ski program at Park City Mountain has been life changing for my son, Hunter. I’m so grateful the National Ability Center created this program and that Vail Resorts continues to support it. Recreational activities are vital for the well-being of kids with special needs, such as autism. The idea that my son can learn to ski in a safe, fun environment like all the other children who come to our ski town is incredible. Through the NAC’s ski program, Hunter has experienced independence, the ability to trust his teachers, the ability to trust himself, increased confidence, freedom of movement and the chance to make choices, all while having fun!

Jamie Crane-Mauzy: freeskier, program participant and volunteer

On April 11, 2015, I was at a world tour finals in Whistler. I finished fourth after the first run, and, naturally, wanted to get on the podium. I decided to upgrade an off-axis grabbed backflip to an off-axis double backflip. If I landed it, I would likely place in the top three and become the first girl to land one on a slopestyle run. Unfortunately, I didn’t land it. I hit my feet first but came up short and whiplashed my head onto the snow. I started convulsing and slipped into a coma that lasted for eight days. Miraculously, I lived, and just three months after my injury, my neurologist cleared me to do all sports.

My first day back skiing was seven and a half months after my injury. I was ecstatic to be home skiing at Park City Mountain. I decided to let the NAC ease me back into skiing. I was familiar with their programs and knew they helped mentally challenged and physically unique individuals and those with life-changing injuries — I just never imagined I would utilize their services. They kept me challenged, but safe. The National Ability Center gave me the gift of skiing again after my accident.

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