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For the week of Mar. 1 through Mar. 7, 2000

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 disabled."

That’s 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.

SVASP’s 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.

They’ve met a number of the group’s 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 Valley’s 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-Ski—with a seat similar to a Mono-ski—which 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, SVASP’s 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 $50.

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.


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