That Day I Got to Live and Dream
Living life one day at a time
That Day I Got to Live and Dream
In November 2020 I was fat biking near Lake Louise and a cross country skier stopped me and pointed out that fat bikes damage the ski trails and they are made for narrow bike trails. I pointed out because of my balance, I do best of wide trails because of my balance. After back and forth with this skier, I wake up to the story in as poplar ski blog by Skier Bob the next morning in which the skier was quoted, “he went from being ready to report me, to supporting me”
Soon after I get a message from an RMA volunteer Carole Levasseur, who said I should try skiing. I I didn’t have the balance and knew I couldn’t turn my foot inward to do the snow plow. Carole said nonsense and suggested I sign up for “Try it” program.
I arrived March 28th 2021 early at the base of sunshine village because I had no idea what to expect; My friends Jason and Fionna joined me which made it less scary. Nick went to the rental shop to help me get my gear, and we hit the bunny hill. By afternoon we learned that I did best with out riggers and was carving turns around polls Nick set up by end of the day. I was so amazed I was skiing after just 1 day.
I could hardly wait to ski in the fall and scheduled a second lesson with Nick for opening weekend. After a morning getting my ski legs back, I got to take the big kids lift and try a real ski run off of strawberry lift. I was blown away by the vastness of the terrain. My first run was terrifying but 2 hours later we made it down. I even got in my first powder.
The past few months I have started doing regular lessons with a new instructor Jenni and with growing comfort on the hill, I tackled more challenging runs. I even have my personal trainer Lance at the gym and working on strengthening and balance related to skiing. A highlight for me a month ago was when the lifty noticed me getting off the lift by myself after bailing the run before; He jumped out of his chair in celebration – I tell this story not because I enjoy people celebrating little improvements, I am an advocate for those with disabilities and I expect now that lifty will be even more inclusive to those with disabilities going forward. Another highlight this winter was 3 of my friends skiing down strawberry with me cheering me on and being able to stop a few times going down and chat. That day I got to live and dream – I skied with my friends, ate lunch in the same place as my friends and took the same gondola to reach the base; I felt included and not excluded.
People with disabilities are often segregated, told they don’t have access to same thing as a non-disabled person. During my childhood, none of the activities RMA offers were available to me, so my activity was on the family farm which was awesome in its own respect, but in a sense segregated me from my classmates. I think what most people don’t realize is by including and giving people with disabilities access to skiing and other activities, we not only improve their physical health, but we build their mental health and confidence that they can carry through other aspects. My confidence in life has gone up significantly since skiing the first time about a year ago; I am better at my job as a result and I am a better friend, advocate, and community member.
It was after my 2nd ski lesson I knew I had to be more involved in RMA, I felt how much skiing was changing my life and wanted be part of the energy and help more people to have the same experience I have had. Not looking to work for RMA, I applied to become a board member of RMA to help make decisions related to day-to-day operations and a contributing to a vision looking forward. I want to bring my lived experience as someone living their entire life with a disability; combined with work I have done on advocacy to help make sure everyone is included in outdoor activates in the mountains.
Thank you RMA. Thank you Nick, Carole, Jenni, Jamie and others involved – You are making a difference in my life and building a stronger community. RMA is not only helping get more people with disabilities on the ski hill, they are helping to build people who will contribute to society and help build a community where everyone belongs.
Inspired by Matt’s story? Join us for an #accessibleadventure..