Volunteer Corner | SierraSun.com

Volunteer Corner

Amy Edgett/Sierra SunDavid Murakami

What is your title at Disabled Sports USA? Adaptive instructor. I specialize in bi-ski. In the summer, I volunteer in the cycling program.How long have you been a volunteer?Ive been volunteering here for five years in the winter and two in the summer.How did you get involved?I was with the United States Adaptive Recreation Center in Big Bear Lake, California, as a volunteer instructor for five winters before I came up here. What brought you here?Jobs. My wife got a job up here. We moved and moved all our activities as well.And what are those activities?Alpine/nordic skiing, cross-country skiing, cycling both road and mountain biking. Paddling the kayak on the lake.Would you describe the bi-ski for the adaptive ski program?The bi-ski is a sit-down form of adaptive skiing. Its for disabilities that prevent standing up.What types of disabilities does this include?The more-involved disabilities are a result of spinal cord or brain injuries, [and theres also] cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, muscular sclerosis, those types of things.

What ages are your students?Ive taught very small children, ages 7 and 8, who actually appear much smaller due to their disability. Ive even taught people in their 70s and 80s.What is the most rewarding aspect of your position?Im able to share the whole mountain experience. Otherwise, the students wouldnt have the opportunity to enjoy. Its more than just the skiing. I learn something from all of my students. It is a unique experience that enhances my own experiences we can all have personal growth through skiing with our students.What does it take to be a volunteer?We have a need for volunteers of many abilities and skills without necessarily being on the mountain. The instructors take extended training.Where do you teach?Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is where the program center is located. The cycling program is done in conjunction with a number of other organizations from Sacramento, Chico, Reno and Sparks as well. We were a big participant in Mark Wellmans No Barriers event at Squaw Valley this summer. We helped over 250 disabled people, family and friends at that event.One guy touched me the most. He was from the Wounded Warrior program (veterans who have been injured). He lost his legs to an [improvised explosive device] six weeks prior to the program. Thats really an achievement to be out six weeks after he lost his legs. Its really special.What makes your day as a volunteer?We are able to make strong exchanges, both to make contributions to the lives of people who are disabled, and in return, we as volunteers/instructors have learned a lot about disabilities and what it means to have them.Who would interested persons contact to volunteer?Vanessa Belz at 581-4161 or e-mail vanessa@disabledsports.net.The Sierra Suns Amy Edgett interviewed David Murakami for this weeks Volunteer Corner. Please send your suggestions to aedgett@sierrasun.com, subject Volunteer Corner. For volunteer opportunities in the North Tahoe-Truckee area, visit http://www.handsontahoe.com

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