Julianna King, left, Jim Sittlington and Iain Grant ski down a run Sunday at Steamboat Ski Area with Ellie Zwak. They all were participating in the Stars of Tomorrow Youth Ski & Ride Camp, a three-day affair that was the joint effort of Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, Access Anything and Adaptive Adventures.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Julianna King, left, Jim Sittlington and Iain Grant ski down a run Sunday at Steamboat Ski Area with Ellie Zwak. They all were participating in the Stars of Tomorrow Youth Ski & Ride Camp, a three-day affair that was the joint effort of Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, Access Anything and Adaptive Adventures.

Disability organizations team up for 3-day ski venture

Advertisement

Eight-year-old Cathryn Gray isn't new to mountains.

She climbed several with her father back near her home in Atlanta, she explained Sunday afternoon.

Skiing, on the other hand, proved an entirely new experience, although it was hard to be sure of as much after just one day of lessons at Steamboat Ski Area.

"My favorite part is when you can go really fast downhill," she said, goggles resting atop her helmet as she looked out on a sunny and slushy day on Mount Werner. "I learned how to turn and stop. And go. It's a lot of fun."

Gray is one of 18 children participating in the Stars of Tomorrow Youth Ski & Ride Camp at Steamboat Ski Area. The three-day venture started Saturday and wraps up today.

The camp is a joint effort of area disabled support groups. Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (STARS), Access Anything and Adaptive Adventures combined to offer the long weekend of skiing for children with physical and developmental disabilities and their families.

"It took a collaboration between all three groups to bring the camp together," said Liz Leipold, an occupational therapist and adaptive ski instructor who already had worked with many of the local campers for years before this weekend.

Cathryn's appreciation of skiing's speed was nothing unusual. The camp includes children from all across the country - eight of the campers are local children, but at least eight states are represented - and it includes campers with a variety of disabilities.

Many suffer from mobility related disabilities, however, so a quick trip down a run meant something special.

"Skiing is the best sport for a lot of these kids," Adaptive Adventure executive director Joel Berman said. "A lot of these kids have probably never moved as fast and as easily as they have in the last few days."

The camp represents a new venture for disabled support groups in Steamboat. Craig and Andrea Kennedy have helped organize a camp for more advanced adaptive skiers for years. That venture came to Steamboat for the fourth time earlier this year, but this weekend's children's camp is the first of its kind in the area.

Adaptive Adventures has hosted similar camps around the country. The support from the community and the Steamboat Ski Area convinced organizers such a weekend was possible in the Yampa Valley, as well.

Andrea Kennedy said they found a whole new collection of sponsors for the weekend, meaning they didn't have to return to those that have made the more advanced camp so successful.

"We've been talking about it for a couple of years," she said. "We wanted to be sure the adults camp was dialed in so we could expend some of our local energy. We don't want to ask the people who donate twice, so we got all different donors.

"It's been huge. Adaptive Adventures told us Steamboat always has some of the best community support."

Wide smiles across the faces of campers, their families and the camp volunteers proved that the effort was much appreciated.

"It's really been awesome," Leipold said. "This was the first year, and we'll be doing this again."

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.