While Durango continues to gaze at the sky for clouds, moisture and anything remotely related to snow, the Adaptive Sports Association (ASA) is busy recruiting and training volunteers for its 23rd season.
In 1983, Dave Spencer, a skier whose leg was amputated due to cancer, co-founded ASA with a vision of developing an organization dedicated to providing outdoor recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. Spencer died in November 1986, but not before ASA was well on its way to becoming one of the best adaptive programs in the nation.
Two weeks ago, ASA held organizational and informational sessions for its winter programs. ASA trains and supervises volunteers who provide skiing and snowboarding instruction and guidance for people with disabilities ranging from visual and hearing impairment to amputation, ALS, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.
Griz Kelley, program director with Adaptive Sports for six years, provided an animated overview for 30 new recruits at the Community Recreation Center.
“Yes, volunteers who help someone with a day of skiing earn a free lift ticket,” Kelley said. “That may bring you into the program, but it’s not what makes you stay. There’s so much personal satisfaction in teaching someone to ski or snowboard.”
Kelley showed off all of the different toys that an instructor can use to help someone successfully navigate the trails at Durango Mountain Resort. There were harnesses, snow bikes, outrigger poles (crutches with mini-skis on the bottom), mono-ski chairs, board buddies and hula hoops.
“If we can teach people to ski without adaptive equipment, that’s great,” Kelley said. But if there’s something that can lend a hand to a skier with a disability that helps him get down the mountain, Kelley has it in his collection.
“We’re a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people’s lives and allowing them to take advantage of all that Durango and the San Juan Mountains have to offer,” Kelley said.
Liane Jollon is the new executive director of ASA.
“I’m excited to be part of this program which helps bring a community of people together with and without disabilities to pursue outdoor activities,” Jollon said. “It’s just wonderful that people are willing to give their time and energy to help us out…”