Last night, Geoff was inducted into the U.S Disabled Snow Sports Hall of Fame during Ski Spectacular in Breckenridge, Colorado for making significant contributions to adaptive sports, including innovative techniques, specialized equipment, program development, and education . And thanks to our wonderful parents for watching Carver and Greta– and to our friends for making the logistics actually happen, I was able to fly out to be part of the celebration. Our table included his parents, Phil and Joyce, and his sister and her husband, Allison and Brian who flew over from London, our friends from home Matt and Michelle, and family friends from Colorado, Lavania and Cindy. Behind us sat some of our oldest friends in the adaptive ski world from Loon Mountain and EVERYWHERE in the room were injured Veterans and other disabled ski and snowboard enthusiasts, with their families, embracing the power of sport in overcoming challenges.
Once I could get beyond the fact that airplanes had wireless– mind blown literally– I could actually relax with my friend, Michelle, and pretend to be a lady of leisure, traveling for 4 days without children to some beautiful mountains out West. Here’s the thing, I don’t get to travel with Geoff very often, actually never, without our kiddos, so being truly present was important. Not only was Disabled Sports USA celebrating its 50th anniversary of existence, but Ski Spec was also celebrating 30 years of being a collaborative coaching and learning life changer in Breck. Geoff has been present for at least 20 of those years coming not too long after learning to mono ski. I was able to join him one other time, 12 years ago, for Ski Spec and had the honor of teaching a soldier’s wife how to snowboard. Also on this long ago trip, riding up on a chairlift beneath blue bird skies, Geoff asked if I would move in with him. Breck has always been a very special place for him, and he says it’s because of the countless lives changed on and off the snow through the power of sport.
Another friend in the adaptive world named Steve Goodwin was also honored by the DSUSA Jim Winthers Volunteer award last night for lifetime contributions and significant achievement in furthering the mission of Disabled Sports USA. Mary Riddell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the spirit of competition. All three awards were presented by Bob Meserve, a long time member and president of the DSUSA board of directors. Being presented with this award by Bob meant a tremendous amount to Geoff as he is someone he has looked up to for many years. Kirk Bauer, executive director of DSUSA also announced his retirement. Another powerful mentor in Geoff’s professional life was Dr. Bob Harney, who passed away in June of 2012, but we were pretty sure Dr. Bob was there with us last night smiling down on his boy, Geoff, along with Steve and many others. In reflecting on Dr. Bob as a mentor, Geoff once gave a statement to DSUSA which reads, “You can take a look at the amazing accomplishments of Dr. Bob by hanging them on a wall to collect dust for eternity, but the true legacy of this man will always be seen in the smile of every disabled person who learns to turn a ski or ride a bike.” This is what adaptive sports is for Geoff Krill, the ability to pass it on to someone new and then share in that adventure of sport together. So we will find a good spot on a shelf at home for his lovely award; chances are it will collect a lot of dust over the years, but the true spirit will be in every run he is able to make with his own kiddos– or in the adventures other moms and dads are able to make with their own children.
Taking the shuttle to the airport early this morning, I watched the sunrise flash on the white peaks of those really big mountains in Summit County. I thought about how proud I was of the sleepy Hall of Famer next to me holding my hand and how awesome it will be one day when we can bring our kiddos out west for a different kind of family ski experience. A super sweet service dog named Truman had claimed the roomy area at our feet, taking turns between resting his head on my feet or Geoff’s lap or visiting others on the bus. Geoff’s future service dog will travel with him like this and be able to relieve the stress of traveling or the worry of leaving one’s family for stretches of time. Teaching people how to turn on snow is more than just turning on snow; it’s the friendship and compassion and problem solving that comes along with sporting adventure. Ski Spec is about connecting with someone else who is working to overcome challenges associated with their disability– or not. Ski Spec, which is sponsored each year by The Hartford Insurance Company, brings together disabled soldiers and other individuals with their families, pairing them up with coaches and volunteers who have been trained by PSIA adaptive and alpine clinicians. Participating as a PSIA instructor all of these years has helped Geoff to continue to learn other ways to improve his craft, which then helps to improve the sports lives of others daily.
Way to go, babe! We are so proud of you, Geoffrey Alan Krill!