Today, December 3, marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2016. Each year is a theme, and this one is: Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want, creating a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities. Geoff returns home today after a week out at Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado. Breck is a magical experience for the athletes learning to ski and snowboard, the coaches responsible for their learning, and the OTs/PTs/PAs/MDs/trainers and PSIA/ DSUSA coordinators who make all of it happen. My first chairlift ride during Ski Spec the year before we married is the very place Geoff suggested we move in together. Disabled Sports USA and The Hartford sponsor this event, an adaptive sports mecca for one week, nestled between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Without a doubt, more than 17 lives were changed and futures impacted for the better this week.
Our good friend, photographer Ken Watson, took the above photo the last warm weekend of the fall before snow fell in our yard. We needed a picture of the two of us for Rotary’s spring district conference being held at Loon Mountain. Geoff and I have been asked to give the keynote address– together. Say what? Both of us? Together? Interesting, right? Geoff travels to ski programs, adaptive and able- bodied alike, public and private schools, and now mainstream businesses with talks on overcoming challenges whether or not they are associated with disability. His role in PSIA as a member of of the National Demonstration Team and Adaptive Board of Examiners, coupled with being the technical director of Loon Mountain’s Snowsports School and chief motivational officer of Eastern Adaptive Sports, makes him a powerful force of nature. However, with that said, there were a whole lot of people involved in helping him to reach this potential, mostly which began with learning how to ski again after his snowmobile accident.
But like what happens out at Ski Speck, the learning curve is not always magical. Geoff remembers the countless times he fell against the snow before the moment he felt his ski hook up with the snow into a turn, and he felt success. There isn’t just the learning to ski; there is the friendship and laughter and understanding that this recreational activity outdoors AMONG other disabled and able- bodied people alike actually makes everyone’s lives better, stronger, and, well, more miraculous.
One of Geoff’s first coaches, Mary Lane, is out at Ski Spec this week too, along with many others who hail from Loon Mountain’s New England Disabled Sports and adaptive ski programs across the country. She is a legend in her own right and hundreds (probably thousands now) of volunteer coaches and professional ski and snowboard instructors have learned invaluable skills from her experience. Mary is the first one to refer to Geoff, lovingly, as “Tom Sawyer” as he could persuade people into anything with his smile, baby blues, and sincere appreciation for those seeking adventure on any level.
She turned to me and said people could not resist his charm, but she certainly could and would and did so regularly, and I ought to follow her direction if I was planning on marrying him in the long haul. The memory still makes me smile, and I should have listened more closely. As a partner, I am still well within my right to be annoyed with my husband despite his disability. This is normal as no one is perfect. Phones at the dinner table make me crazy because ONCE AND FOR ALL WE DO NOT CONDUCT WORK DURING DINNER. He insists on the biggest Christmas Tree in the back 40. He has too much stuff and our house is too small– you know, normal coupling issues, which have nothing to do with being disabled.
So, this year in honor of International Day for Persons with Disabilities, I’d like to thank the support team which lives within and beyond each of in this challenging drop down menu of life. Thank you to those who value what we believe, what we can become together and individually, what we have to share, and what we know to be true about living each day to the fullest, whether disability has a seat at our dinner table or not.
My next Christopher and Dana Reeve blog will be out next week (we hope) and features an interview with Carver and Greta Krill regarding what their dad’s hardest and easiest activities are in a wheelchair. Their responses may surprise you…Thank you for reading and sharing and tweeting and following my blog (www.heatherkrill.com) and liking my author FB page (Heather Krill), and for sending us big love always as we enter this new phase of our future: speaking together in public.