Getting off the Special Olympics theme and in the midst of a potential computer crash, I was looking through my pictures and remembered that Peter also took up skiing...briefly, at a very early age, and than once when he was older.
Peter, being the youngest, was packed along with the other kids into the mini-van and spent the next 8 hours driving north through snow and winds, to end up at Powderhorn mountain. This was an annual event with our friends the Ehlers, where we spent long hours driving for a two or three day weekend of skiing. We always ended up at Big Powderhorn Mountain, as we loved the day care and even more, the Big Bird Chair Lift. Because we showed up every year, the grandma type day care person, there must be a better name for that...got to know us and we and the kids looked forward to seeing her. For an incredible price, the kids could spend the day in the daycare center, watch movies, eat, and receive two free ski lessons while, we the adults took in our annual dose of skiing and hot cocoa. That would be hot cocoa with just enough peppermint schnapps to make you feel warm and cozy. At the end of the day, we would retrieve the kids and join them on the Big Bird chairlift for the annual parent-child run. The thing about the Big Bird Chair lift was it was kid sized which meant it hit you right above your ankles at mid-calf. So when you sat your anny fanny down, you needed to be quick and expect a bit of a drop from standing to sitting, as that was a long way down. Once, as an adult, you maneuvered yourself into the seat, off you went with your toddlers, etc in tow. There was just something about that chairlift, that even as I am writing...I have a smile on my face and am envisioning laughter, sun and fun. It was always sunny of the Big Bird hill.
Now, Peter, being the youngest, was just part of the gang and he ended up in daycare with the other kids, and when he was old enough and had developed enough muscle tone, he also participated in the ski lessons. So, at a very young age, he went onBig Bird and skied down between our legs. Thinking back, that was pre-phobia time, where he just was put on the lift without a concern. We, of course, holding onto him tightly, as we went up the mountain.
As the older kids grew, the trips to Big Bird were replaced by other types of family vacations such as scuba diving until the year we decided to go out West. Peter at that time was about junior high school age, and we found an outfit in the Colorado Rockies called Breckenridge Outer Education Center for skiers with disabilities. So off we went, Peter enrolled in this high level ski school. Walking into the building I was extremely impressed to see individuals who were blessed with a missing extremities, or lack of vision, or cognitively impaired. All skiing, having a great time, and overcoming any challenges they were facing. Why, there was even a Special Olympics ski team. Seeing this was so exciting!
Peter, all signed up, was left for the day in the hands of two Physical Therapists who were going to teach Peter to ski the big mountain. No small task for someone who had developed various fears by this time. At one point, I received a call, that Peter was shaky, but a bit of food and some hugs changed that. Finally, at the end of the day, there was Peter, the two therapist at his side, skiing down the hill! Triumphant, as if he was showing Sara and Mike that he could be just like them.
That was the only time Peter skied on that vacation as we moved to other areas, and truth be told, I think Peter was exhilarated by his accomplishment, but glad to hang at the condo. If I lived closer to Breckenridge, I would sign Peter up for more lessons. I think he would make a great bunny hill skier. Maybe someday we will return. I am just pleased that Peter overcame many fears that day...the big chairlift being one of them and he accomplished skiing down the very large hill. In his own way, he was very pleased with himself and endless praises throughout the week were lauded around him. Way to go Pete! We spent about three days at Breckenridge and throughout the experience there was always a skier next to you with a special need, it may be the skier was blind, or in a wheelchair, or skiing with one leg...whatever...really cool to experience this. Just another visual of those with challenges overcoming!