Locals 2012: Andy and Craig Kennedy
June 29, 2012
Craig Kennedy, a T-12 paraplegic, sits back in his wheelchair, happy to be back home in Steamboat Springs. He has just returned from a consulting gig in London, training staff from 86 airlines about how to handle wheelchairs and other assisted devices. He's glad to be back home rather than Heathrow Airport.
"The people here are the reason I stayed after my accident," he says. "That and the quality of life."
Craig, 40, who moved here in 1994 from Lake George, N.Y., still remembers the day that changed his life forever: March 28, 1996, when he broke his back skiing Vertigo after taking a jump, hitting some ice and landing on his backpack.
As program director for Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports — or STARS, a local nonprofit offering outdoor camps and programs for people with disabilities — he's made it his mission to help others better lead changed lives, as well. His STARS programs and camps include skiing, biking, archery, fishing, water skiing, swimming and more. Craig and his wife, Andy, also co-authored the book "Access Anything: Go Anywhere and Do Anything," an inside look at sports easily accessible to people with disabilities.
Andy, 39, who moved here in 1998, has altruistic callings, as well, serving as program director for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
"I'd been to Colorado and knew I was always going to wind up here," Andy says. "It's like a big family here — everyone has a million things going on, but everyone still connects with one another."
While her passion now is sustainability — "You can apply it to the economy, community and environment," she says — Craig's passion still is firmly rooted in helping people with disabilities lead active lives.
That, of course, and sit-skiing the slopes of Mount Werner. On any given powder day, he's regularly the first person in line, leaving his telltale three-tracks before able-bodied skiers have even clicked into their bindings.
"Honestly, I think I enjoy skiing more now," says Craig, who logs as many as 80 ski days per year. "It's been more of a challenge to get to where I am, which makes me love it that much more."
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