Sunday, February 18, 2007
Steamboat Springs Horizons recently gave Kyle Taulman and Remy St. Pierre a gift many Steamboat residents might take for granted - a day of skiing with their families.
"His ski has allowed us to ski together," said Julie Taulman, Kyle's mother. "If we didn't have the dual-ski, Kyle would have to be with a babysitter when we ski or in a lesson by himself in order to use the equipment."
Kyle was diagnosed with Stage 3 neuroblastoma cancer Dec. 24, 2003, at the age of 2. The tumor wrapped around his spinal cord, and the damage caused Kyle to be paralyzed from the waist down. He endured three rounds of chemotherapy, and in March 2004 had a successful tumor resection surgery.
A year later, the Taulman family moved to Steamboat Springs.
"We wanted to ski as a family," Julie said. "But our main priority was to pay for medical expenses and adapt the house to fit Kyle's needs."
Since receiving the specialized sit-ski from Horizons Specialized Services three weeks ago, Kyle has been skiing seven times. His classmate, Remy St. Pierre, took his new bi-ski out for the first time last weekend.
Four-year-old Remy suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease. He was diagnosed with the disease when he was 18 months old.
SMA occurs when motor neurons in the spinal cord fail to relay signals from the brain to the muscle, causing muscles to weaken. In advanced stages, the disease progresses to the immune and respiratory systems. Because of the serious health issues associated with SMA, Remy wasn't always able to attend Horizons ski lessons during the 2005-06 season.
"If Remy was ever sick or couldn't make the Horizons ski day, there were no makeup lessons," said Richard St. Pierre, Remy's father. "These lessons were the only way he could use the bi-ski."
Kyle and Remy learned to use sit-skis last year during Horizons' Adaptive Ski Program. But the Horizons program or separate individual lessons through the Steamboat Ski Area were the only opportunities the families could use sit-skis.
Liz Leipold, a ski instructor and occupational therapist who runs the Horizons Adaptive Ski Program on Saturdays, has worked with both children and their families. She helped organize and facilitate the new skis for the boys.
"They now have the opportunity to ski with family and friends, just like other kids," Leipold said. "For both families, this was a dream come true."
In January, the two families received their sit-skis from Horizons. The skis cost about $10,000. An anonymous donor along with Horizons funds made the skis possible. Ski Haus also paid for half the cost of the skis and bindings to mount Kyle's dual-ski.
"We recognized a need for these families, and the community helped us to meet it," said Susan Mizen, Horizons' executive director. "We knew we needed to figure out a way to make this equipment available to the kids."
Kyle and Remy's parents trained with Horizons' staff to use the equipment, and now both boys are able to make proficient turns, keeping up with other kids their age on the slopes.
"My favorite thing is to go fast," Remy said Friday.
Kyle agreed, pointing out his new sticker that read, "Why Turn?" before bragging about his abilities in the halfpipe.
Erin Gleason is a senior at Steamboat Springs High School. She is conducting a reporting internship at the Pilot & Today as part of the Careers class at the high school.