Special ski school adapts to all ages and abilities
Editor’s note: The Sierra Sun is highlighting eight organizations that benefited from grants made through last year’s Gifts for Good campaign, a partnership between the Sierra Sun, Tahoe World and Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation.By Christine Stanley
Sierra SunThere are only two days left to sign up to be a volunteer ski instructor with the Tahoe Adaptive Ski School at Alpine Meadows.The ski school, which is a part of Disabled Sports USA Far West, has been leading adaptive sports and recreation programs for more than 30 years. Winter sports include snowboarding and skiing for participants of nearly all ages and abilities, and are made possible by a team of nearly 100 volunteers and professional instructors who provide students with two-on-one instruction, assistance, and individual lesson plans.”We still need a few dozen more volunteers,” said volunteer coordinator Caylin Goldey. “And not just for on-hill instruction, but for planning special events, designing and repairing equipment, handi-work, and fundraising.”The ski school also runs a non-profit cafe that serves coffee drinks, sandwiches, and goodies to further support programs.
TASS was originally started as a way for Vietnam veteran amputees to develop adaptive ski techniques and equipment and continue enjoying the sport.Following World War II, amputee ski clubs began popping up across the country, according to Doug Pringel, a Vietnam veteran amputee who became involved with adaptive ski programs in the late 1960s. In 1967 those clubs incorporated as a non-profit organization called the National Amputee Skiers Association through which WWII vets gave ski lessons to soldiers returning from Vietnam. “Society at that time sent the message [to amputees] that you’re life’s over,” said Pringel. “But this program is meant to make you think about the things you can do and forget about the things you can’t. “It changed my life and became my mission to organize chapters around the country.”Decades later, Disabled Sports USA Far West, as the group is now named, has grown to offer variety of summer activities such as water-skiing and whitewater rafting in addition to its winter sports, not only to disabled veterans, but to participants of all ages, abilities, and affiliations. From the original organization founded at Donner Ski Ranch, more than 85 other chapters have since sprouted across the nation.
In December, DSUSAFW, in affiliation with Blaze Sports Club of Lake Tahoe, will host a group of soldiers who have returned disabled from Iraq in a four day event of Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, and ice hockey. Anyone interested in volunteering with DSUSAFW should contact Caylin Goldey or Cindy Smith at 581-4161, or look on the web at http://www.dsusafw.org to find out more. Volunteers are asked to give a minimum of four days of their time each season, which is open daily from mid-December through mid-April.”We have amazing volunteers and participants from all backgrounds, and our needs change each season,” said Goldey. “There are a lot of ways that people can help.”