A foot of fresh powder over the weekend at Mount Washington provided a soft landing for those who are still learning how to master skiing despite their physical and mental challenges.
There were wipe-outs, but it was all for a good cause on Feb. 13 at the 23rd Annual Herb Bradley Coca-Cola Classic. The event is the Vancouver Island Society for Adaptive Snowsports (VISAS) principal fundraising event of the year and while the final tally isn’t in yet it’s estimated close to $10,000 was raised this year.
Mount Washington has long been a leader in advancing disabled skiing, and skiers and snowboarders representing businesses from all over Vancouver Island contributed cash and camaraderie to support the non-profit group.
President Brian Cully admitted the downturn in the economy resulted in fewer teams this year, but they were still pleased with the outcome.
“I would have liked to have had more teams. But the event went great and we are working on a new game plan for next year to make it bigger and better,” he said.
VISAS believe that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate and enjoy Alpine/Nordic snow sports. Operating at Mount Washington since the early 1960s, they help people accent their abilities in a fun and encouraging environment.
The volunteer group with over 80 alpine, nordic and snowboard instructors is dedicated to bringing the mountain to people with disabilities. The organization is focused on providing nationally certified instructors to assist physically or mentally challenged individuals and offer instruction in downhill, snowboard and cross country and provide all adaptive equipment.
Students have reaped great success in skiing with the use of specialized adaptive equipment and professional instruction; just ask Bob Logan of Parksville. The 69-year-old lost both of his lower legs to deep vein thrombosis five years ago and for three years he has been skiing on a mono ski, thanks to the program.
“It’s a phenomenal program,” he said and encouraged anyone with a disability who has lost hope to give it a try.
“Don’t sit around doing nothing. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Don’t give up. Look around and enjoy life because there is always someone worse off.”
Logan is turning 70 in June and is looking forward to many more years on the mountain learning and improving his abilities.
— by Brenda Gough, News Contributor