Before we had kids, my husband Joel and I skied almost every year. We always watched in amazement at the little kids barreling down the mountain and looked forward to the day that our children would do the same, no doubt becoming better skiers than us by the time they were four. When Gwen and her twin brother Nick were born 13 weeks early, each weighing under two pounds, all of our dreams for their future were put on hold. After they were diagnosed at 18 months with cerebral palsy we knew that many of our dreams for their future would have to change.
Now six years after their diagnosis, we have learned that when your child has a disability you have to push them and yourself to try everything, knowing that sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t -- but you don’t know until you try. This is what led us led us to the Adaptive Adventures Stars of Tomorrow Youth Ski Camp.
When we signed Gwen up to go to Vail we expected that we’d strap her in some hardware and slide her down the hill. She would have a good time going fast and we’d call it skiing.
Never did we think that she would actually learn to ski. But she did, in her own way, and like all of us she will get better with practice. The superb instructors engaged her the whole time and worked with her at a level that made her successful, yet pushed her to achieve a little bit more on each run. It was unusual and very exciting to see Gwen try so hard to accomplish something new. The other great thing was that Gwen got to meet other successful people with disabilities. These are role models that she doesn’t have at home. For once she was like everyone else – wheels and all.
The Stars of Tomorrow Youth Ski Camp was a life changing experience for Gwen. She talks about it all the time and if you ask her to name her most prized personal possession she will tell you without a doubt – her ski goggles.
By: Saren Johnson – Gwen’s Mom