Two Parkite NAC employees come together to participate in the upcoming Summit Challenge |

Two Parkite NAC employees come together to participate in the upcoming Summit Challenge

After training over the last few months, Madi Baumann, left, and Laura Dusold, right, will be taking participating in the 50-mile ride as part of the National Ability Center’s Summit Challenge on Aug. 24.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

It was a chance encounter that brought Madi Baumann and Laura Dusold together.

A love of recreational sports combined with their employment at the National Ability Center has now led these two toward a 50-mile journey by bike as part of the upcoming Summit Challenge on August 24.

“Riding a tandem bike has always been on my bucket list but I didn’t know if I would find someone who’d be willing to do it with me,” Baumann, 25, said. “I mean, how cool is it to have two people working together towards a common goal? The concept was amazing to me so I’m happy I found someone to do it with.”

Dusold echoes Baumann’s sentiment when it comes to teamwork, although it was Baumann’s idea to put the team together.

“I’ve definitely ridden a bike before but I have no real experience, so we are both kind of like beginners, which I think is perfect for us,” Dusold, 28, said. “But it was for sure Madi’s idea to team up, she started it and I was hooked, so when she asked, it was an easy decision.”

The couple’s respective journeys to the NAC couldn’t have been more different.

Dusold, after leaving college and moving to Utah, knew she wanted to work at a nonprofit, she just had to find the right one. She had no idea which one she wanted to work in, or even what type of non-profit field she was looking for, all Dusold was sure of was this was the right direction for her.

She then found the NAC and applied because it “looked cool” and had a good atmosphere to it. It turned out that applying was one of the best decisions of her life having now worked there for a year and a half.

“It’s crazy how things work out because it’s kind of the perfect place for me. It’s super random but it’s worked out better for me than I ever could’ve imagined,” said Dusold, National Ability Center Group Reservations Supervisor. “I never thought about adaptive recreation as a career but now I’m super passionate about it, and know for a fact that it’s what I want to be doing with my life.”

Everything changed for Baumann 14 years ago when she was involved in a horrific car accident. The results of the accident left her permanently blind in her left eye and with partial vision on her right eye.

She originally came to the NAC as a participant three and a half years ago, skiing because she’s always had a passion for the sport. But over the countless visits, the people at the NAC started to become her family because her immediate family was still in Washington.

“It was hard because I lived and worked in Salt Lake City, which was pretty lonely but I loved coming up to the NAC so much that it became like a second home,” said Baumann, National Ability Center Customer Service Associate. “At some point I kind of had dreams of living up here (in Park City) but it had to be the right place at the right time kind of thing for it to happen.”

That “right place at the right time” mentality came true when Baumann made some changes, looking ahead to being on the ski team full time. With spending so much time up in Park City training, she decided that it didn’t make sense to keep working and living in Salt Lake City so a change had to be made.

“I put my application in last September and when I did, I called one of the people up here and told her I applied,” Baumann said. “She was so excited and told me she was going to call the hiring person and tell them to hire me. … The rest just sort of worked out the way it was supposed too.”

Dusold and Baumann’s partnership isn’t just derived from their friendship; it also comes out of necessity.

Because of Baumann’s visual impairment of having no depth perception or peripheral vision on her right side, riding a bike solo a realistic option for her. That’s where Dusold enters the picture, being the eyes for the pair by riding in front and directing where they go.

“Having Laura riding in front, it’s so helpful and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to do this with,” Baumann said. “There’s a lot of trust that goes into something like for me, like I really have to trust the person who’s leading us with Laura, I have that. She’s allowing me to do something like this and I couldn’t be more thankful.”

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