I’ve been an amputee snowboarder since 2007. A good friend named Lewis Bloom said to me, “Reggie you like a good challenge, you should try snowboarding.” My immediate response to him was “are you crazy? Black people don’t snowboard!” (LOL) I honestly didn’t even think about the fact that I am a double below knee amputee. I thought it was too cold of a sport for me to even remotely get involved in. I told him “black people hate the cold bro!” Lewis was persistent and after a few conversations I promised to give it a try. I took my first lesson at Camelback Mountain in PA. I was hooked! For the next few years I did everything I could to improve my skills and to learn to overcome the specific challenges faced by amputee snowboarders. In 2011 I got certified to instruct. Shortly after I got invited to volunteer at the most incredible winter sports event in the country for people with disabilities, Ski Spectacular!
Hosted by Disabled Sports USA at the Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge Colorado, The Hartford Ski Spectacular is one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for people with disabilities with more than 800 registered participants annually. Each year during the first week of December, people from all over the world come to learn from the best PSIA/AASI certified ski and snowboard instructors. The event also offers free Nordic/Biathlon lessons, Curling, Sled Hockey, as well as instructor level continuing education classes. The culmination of the event is the Diana Golden Level 1 race which takes place on the final day. Each night during the event there is a social activity such as Casino Night, where participants are given chips to gamble the night away on Black Jack tables for prizes. This year’s theme for the Friday evening dance was “Prom Night.” Everyone came dressed in their favorite era prom outfits. That was hilarious! Ski Spec is an opportunity for the disabled community to come together and celebrate the joy of snow sports. It’s a beautiful feeling to go to a ski resort and not feel “out of place.” To actually feel like you “belong.” To see people who have similar challenges all coming together to enjoy the mountain. It’s such a therapeutic experience and it does wonders for the healing process for those living with a disability. If you or a family member are disabled and would like to learn to ski, ride a snowboard, or ride a mono or bi-ski, please sign up for next year’s DSUSA The Hartford Ski Spectacular. It’s a life changing event.
For more information please go to http://www.skispec.org or http://www.disabledsportsusa.org. As long as God gives me the strength, I’ll be there every year helping my disabled brothers and sisters realize their true potential.