A skiing program in Maine has adapted to the needs of skiers of all abilities for more than three decades. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.
At Sunday River in Maine (www.sundayriver.com), the resort is adapting to the needs of all skiers. It is not unusual to see people of all abilities skiing in Sunday River, including those who have a range of disabilities. One of the skiiers, Glen Kroll, has been blind for as long as he can remember.
"I was born with congenital glaucoma, which resulted in the loss of 90 percent of my vision at a very young age," Kroll says.
Lack of sight has not stopped Kroll from tearing up the hill, with the help of a 31-year-old program that assists those with permanent physical disabilities.
"It serves so many people in so many ways," says Judy Sullivan of Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. "It's not just a physical activity, it's a social activity, a family type program. Once you're here, you feel like family. You have lots of friends, lots of support."
Maine Adaptive (maineadaptive.org) has more than 400 volunteers and a roster of approximately 300 skiers. A doctor's consent is necessary to qualify.
"Cancer, amputee, MS, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries, visual impairments, hearing impairments, the range is huge," Sullivan says.
The cost of the lift ticket, lessons, equipment and even some items of specialized ski clothing are all free of charge.
The experience for Kroll is priceless. He says he enjoys "the freedom and ability to get out in the fresh air in the wintertime, when otherwise I might be cooped up, the ability to have some measure of control myself."
Skiers are responsible for their own hotel arrangements. Several properties in the area have handicapped accessible rooms, such as the 100-year-old Bethel Inn Resort (bethelinn.com), where I stayed on a media visit.