Mark Davis: Making freedom possible for others
Vail CO, Colorado
Independence Day only comes once a year for most of us, but for the blind skiers, or Visually Impaired Participants (VIPs), assisted by Foresight Ski Guides, Independence Day comes every time they ski down the slopes of Vail and Beaver Creek.
Independence Day came Feb. 25 for Danyar, a blind student from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and foster child from Kazakhstan. His day of freedom arrived when he rode top-to-bottom of Showboat and Avanti after just three days on skis.
He had only been in this country a few months and had never spoken English. This was his first time on skis ” skis provided by Vail Sports using a lift ticket donated by Vail Resorts, a lesson from the Adaptive Ski School, and having rested up the night before at the Vail Marriott with his fellow blind students, all courtesy of the Foresight Ski Guides Blind Skier program and you, the Vail Valley community.
If you’ve spent any time on the slopes of Vail and Beaver Creek in the past few seasons you’ve probably seen the striking orange vests worn by Foresight Ski Guides and our VIPs .
The blind skiers and guides don the bright orange vests as a safety precaution, but over the years the vests also have become somewhat of a fixture at Vail because of what they represent.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Whenever you see the vest you know there is an adventuresome VIP, like Danyar, who is conquering his fears so he can live a rich, full life that includes skiing. Or you’re watching a dedicated volunteer who wants to help a blind skier challenge herself.
That same spirit has been contagious in the Vail Valley and has inspired businesses and individuals to step up to help Foresight Ski Guides succeed in its mission to provide affordable recreational therapy.
Foresight Ski Guides had another record-breaking season this year thanks to the generous support of companies like Vail Resorts , Vail Sports, the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa, Colorado Mountain Express, the Evergreen Lodge, and the Vail Daily.
Our nonprofit worked this year with more highly trained ski guides from Eagle County than ever before. The volunteers put in extra hours to help Foresight exceed its number of skier days by 20 percent over last year and the numbers keep climbing.
Foresight Ski Guides also went on a whirlwind media tour that featured several broadcasts with Vail Valley media outlets.
Local residents may have seen my interviews about Foresight air on TV8’s Good Morning Vail show, during CNN Headline News in November on Comcast Channel 44 in Vail, Avon, and Summit County. Or maybe you heard our appearance on the Last DJ on KZYR, the Zephyr radio station, 97.7 FM in Vail.
Talk about freedom, this season we guided Chris, a totally blind snowboarder from the Colorado Center for the Blind. Chris was Foresight’s first blind snowboarder. Other firsts included two ski trips with blind students from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind. In addition to skiing at Vail, the Gore Range Nature School provided an education experience on snowshoes for the blind students for the first time.
All of these opportunities for blind skiers are made possible for Foresight VIPs through the generosity of this tremendous community known as the Vail Valley that gives of itself to make every day Independence Day for our blind participants.
Foresight Ski Guides would like to express its gratitude to the people of Eagle County for the successful 2007-2008 blind skier ski season. We look forward to flourishing again next year.
For more information about becoming a trained ski guide or contributing in other ways, visit Foresight’s newly designed Web site at http://www.foresightskiguides.org.
Thanks again and Happy Fourth!
Mark Davis is the founder and president of Foresight Ski guides, a nonprofit organization that aims to make snow sports accessible and affordable to visually impaired and blind skiers. E-mail your guest column to firstname.lastname@example.org.