Disabled athletes have chance to enjoy skiing
Thanks to SVASP, volunteers, organizations
"We believe that no one should be excluded from
enjoying the exhilaration and challenge of mountain recreation simply because they are
Thats a statement put out by The Sun Valley Adaptive Sports Program
(SVASP), a non-profit organization conceived by a group of local citizens. SVASP is
affiliated with Disabled Sports USA.
SVASPs mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with
disabilities, through sports and recreation.
And SVASP has been putting its mission to good use this winter.
Volunteers, school teachers, ski instructors and SVASP members have been
giving their time to make skiing a reality for young people with handicaps.
SVASP president Marc Mast said, "Our program includes a wide range of
sports such as Alpine and Nordic skiing, mountain biking, jet skiing, white water rafting,
fishing and hiking.
"The SVASP is committed to opening new worlds to people with special
needs, and to build self-confidence through the celebration of outdoor sports and all they
have to offer."
Created in June 1999, the SVASP board of directors features president
Mast, vice president Cliff Coons, secretary Dennis Davis, treasurer Kingsley Murphy and
members-at-large Muffy Davis of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, Tim Johnson and M.B. Davis.
Theyve met a number of the groups 1999-2000 winter objectives
like (1) offering ski buddies for those who may need assistance, and (2) providing
adaptive equipment for lessons and free skiing.
Mast began to teach Alpine skiing to disabled people on Sun Valleys
Bald Mountain in 1992.
He realized he could facilitate life-changing experiences for people whose
prior options were sorely limited. And he dedicated himself to the current project.
One of the biggest obstacles Mast faced was obtaining the
highly-specialized equipment necessary to make skiing possible and safe for his growing
number of special needs clients.
He said, "The scientific community is constantly improving the
research and development of adaptive sports equipment, including the Bi-unquic
Bi-Skiwith a seat similar to a Mono-skiwhich incorporates suspension with
dramatic sidecut skis for increased maneuverability."
To accomplish its goals, SVASP is soliciting the input and participation
of all Wood River Valley residents. Ideas and donations are appreciated.
For instance, SVASPs winter wish list includes:
A Bi-unquic Bi-Ski for $3,000; kids outrigger for $600; ice skating
sled for $3,000; helmets for $1,000; cushion for $500; Alpine skis for $1,200; and
cross-country skis for $5,000;
Also, ski lift tickets for $3,500; cants, wedges and lifts for $500; ski
lessons for $10,000; individual race coaches for $3,000; and ski bra bungee clamps for
Mast said, "In addition, we still need help planning for the summer
season and covering our overhead costs to make our dream and the dreams of many disabled
people come true."
The SVASP will try to continue working closely with the Blaine County
School District and Blaine County Recreation District to assist residents who can benefit
from the program.
In the future, SVASP is looking to integrate its programs with the
able-bodied community and hopes to create an Adaptive Sports Center within a local
community center to provide housing facilities and a camp that will benefit people of all
levels of abilities, Mast said.
Write SVASP at P.O. Box 6791, Ketchum, Idaho 83340 for more information
about the program, or call Mast at 726-9013.