A few weeks ago, we published an interview with Anne Bethune, president of Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports. Today, we want to share with you how Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports has made dreams come true for 4 very special people.
When mark is not at VASS, he spends his time playing and teaching music, doing physical therapy, working out at the gym, swimming at the pool, and attending yoga classes.
Skiing is important to Mark for a number of reasons. He appreciates both the physical challenge, and emotional pleasure that he gets from his time with VASS.
“For my body, it’s balance, flexibility, muscular fitness, (especially for my legs) and a great cardiovascular workout. But I think the most important reason is how skiing makes me feel. When I’m up on the hill, looking down at an awesome view of Vancouver, and I’m skiing all on my own, the feeling is priceless. I no longer feel trapped in my body. When I’m skiing, I feel free! I feel alive!”
Mark states that perhaps the biggest impact VASS has had on him is that skiing has helped him improve his balance after his injury and has been an important component of his rehabilitation process.
When asked about his most memorable experience with VASS, Mark responded with the following statement:
“Every year has been a wonderful experience for me. VASS has knowledgeable staff and caring volunteers. They are the ones that made the big difference for me. I think the most memorable experience with VASS for me, would be my very first time I went up to Grouse Mountain. It had been 10 years since the last time I went skiing. After my injury I thought I could never ski again. Even my doctors told me that I may never walk or talk again, but I had a dream of being able to ski again. So the first time I went down the bunny hill, I was strapped into a harness, and two people had to hold me up. I had very poor balance and kept falling over, but I didn’t care. I felt so proud of myself just for being up there that night. The next day I was sore and covered in bruises, but I was very happy. I accomplished something that seemed impossible, and I wore my bruises with pride, like patches of honor. I showed them of to all my friends. The fact, that I can ski again, is nothing short of a miracle. Thanks to VASS my dream has come true”
Stephen has spina bifida, which affects his ability to walk well among other things. When not at VASS, Stephen hangs out at his day program, plays the drums, listens to music, writes songs and watches movies.
Ask him about any song and the chances are he will know the lyrics!
Skiing is important to Stephen because it is a healthy activity that helps him with his balance, and provides a good workout and fresh air. In his words, “It’s awesome!” In addition, he gets to meet new people, make new friends and eat delicious snacks afterwards. Speed is Stephen’s favorite aspect of skiing. With his outrigger poles to keep him stable, Stephen can seriously shred!
By providing an opportunity to ski for 21 years, VASS has made a huge difference in Stephen’s life. He has always had a great time in the program, skiing and hanging out with his instructor buddies. Stephen hopes to ski with VASS for a long time to come.
Nico Boffa is a 6 old boy with Autism Spectrum disorder and is currently living in Vanouver. He heard about VASS through a volunteer and signed up for the ski program. Extra-curricular sports and hobbies are extremely important to Nico and his family as a great way to get moving outdoors and enhance their well-being. Additionally they find skiing a great social activity, one that they can do with their peers. Nico’s mother described the VASS program as a Godsend to their family, although initially hesitant to enroll Nico believing that he would have difficulty engaging in instruction as well as his gross motor skills not being at the same level as his peers. Those feelings quickly changed when she saw the first photo of her son on skis. Nico’s mother commends VASS volunteers as exceptional, having the patience and skill set to create a positive learning experience for a child with Special Needs.
Since Nico’s time with VASS, some of the greatest memories Nico’s mom can recall is seeing her son’s smiling faces as he finished his lessons. He would always tell how kind the instructors were to him and express with a giggle how much fun he had when he was skiing with the “tickle flowers” tied to his arm.
Apart from VASS and attending Emily Carr Elementary School, Nico also participates in various Canucks Autism Network sport programs including ‘I CAN swim’ and ‘I CAN play soccer’. He will soon be starting piano lessons at Douglas Park Community Centre.
Erez Avramov is a 41-year-old businessman who currently lives in West Vancouver. Despite his elective lower leg amputation three and a half years ago, he still enjoys doing many outdoor adventures such as dirt biking, climbing and hiking. After hearing about VASS through his physiotherapist, Erez joined the program in January 2014. Skiing with VASS has given him another opportunity to pursue his passion for the outdoors.
Uniquely, it has again allowed him the “feeling of flow, which I only experience skiing”.
After his amputation, his two daughters began ski lessons on Grouse Mountain. As a lifelong dream to ski with his kids and unable to see their progress in lessons, his most memorable moment at VASS was skiing with his entire family in his last lesson. Erez described the experience as “We all skied together as a family for 2 hours with the utmost delight and happiness one can muster – and all of this because VASS were there to support me on this journey and show me what is possible.”
“VASS is an incredible organization – the program showed me that I can still do the things I love and although my situation has changed, with the help of VASS I was able to regain my confidence and adjust to my new condition.”
Erez speaks about skiing for the first time skiing with his prosthesis.
Erez training to become the first amputee in the history of the worlds
toughest and longest off road race – the Dakar Rally on a motorcycle.
All photos courtesy of VASS