It’s currently MN cold -2˚ and I’m high atop Beech Mountain in North Carolina for the 34th Disabled Sorts USA SPARC Learn to Ski Clinic. My good friend Edee, who has spina bifida, has got me volunteering here for the second year in a row. It’s great time where people with disabilities can come learn how to ski. Depending on their needs, they can ski many different ways. My job is to be a slope Guardian (say it like James Earl Jones.) As a guardian of the slopes I ski with my orange vest of justice, protecting the disabled from being hit by wayward crazy people.
The word hero was thrown around a lot this week, mostly by me, but I’m just a humble volunteer saving lives. Seriously, I’m not much of a skier. I like it, but until 2015 it was the last time I skied was in the last century. I quickly learned nothing is more humbling than the disabled helping up the guardian on the bunny hill. As I got more comfortable, another friend who is normally in a wheel chair asked me to go to the top of the mountain. What do you say when you’re able-bodied and on two skis, and someone on one ski asks you to go? You pray a lot and get inspired.
Being a close friend with a disabled person that has the same sense of humor has taught me a lot. Mostly inappropriate jokes, but I have found most individuals with disabilities want to be treated like anyone else. Often Edee will do something like make a sandwich and I will tell her how brave she is, because it seems some people overcompensate when they are uncomfortable. So everything is brave. However, seeing people go down a mountain much better than me that can’t walk is not only truly brave, but inspiring. I complain about dumb stuff, and there they go doing something that is much harder for them. Most of all we all have fun doing it, and that’s what it is about.
The people are great, the volunteers are great, the mountain is great, and the week is great. Beech Mountain and the surrounding community couldn’t have been better. If you want to ski in the southeast, it can’t be beat. I could only do one night, but I got a bed this year. Last year my friend Carly, who’s in a chair, made me sleep on the couch and she took the bed. Can you believe that? Making a not very decorated veteran sleep on the couch. It was that night that I was so brave for sleeping on the couch.