In 1970, Winter Park ski instructor Hal O’Leary raised his hand to volunteer to lead a ski lesson for a group of amputee children from Denver Children’s Hospital. That one action changed his life and the lives of so many others: what began as a tiny operation in a broom closet at Winter Park Resort has since transformed into the National Sports Center for the Disabled, a program that provides more than 3,000 people per year with the opportunity to learn and enjoy both recreational and competitive outdoor activities.

Last Sunday, with temperatures reaching a balmy negative 14 degrees Fahrenheit, the OutThere Colorado team shadowed a half-day monoski lesson with two full-time instructors, Ronnie Maidens and Briana Helling, and their student, Kaitlin Wanberg, a 27-year old Cherry Creek High School science teacher. The cold temperatures, however, didn’t seem to slow down the instructors or Kaitlin. After fitting Kaitlin into her monoski, we followed the crew (which included Kaitlin’s husband, John!) out to the snow and up the chairlift. The instructors chased Kaitlin down the mountain as she sped ahead and instructed and encouraged when needed. We saw this program truly live out its mission statement of ‘enabling the human spirit through therapeutic sports and recreation’ through the spirit of the instructors, NSCD staff, and family members as they encouraged students to do something beyond their own perceived ability. 

And what was most striking was that they all wanted to be there. From the 1200 volunteers, to the handful of staff, to the thousands of clients that walk through the NSCD doors, there is a level of drive and passion for the sport and the life it brings each person who tries an adaptive sport. Join us through a series of pictures for just one of the thousands of NSCD Winter Park stories.

In order for the NSCD to continue providing these life altering experiences for those with disabilities they are in need of donations and volunteers. To inquire about giving your time or donations, see the NSCD website at http://nscd.org/donate/.

1.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
It was Kaitlin's first day on the hill this season. She moves from her wheel chair to the monoski - a feat that requires arm strength, balance, and a lot of practice. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

2.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Two instructors are needed to adjust the ski: one to balance and one to adjust straps and outriggers. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

3.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
The NSCD instructors wrap Kaitlin's torso tightly to compensate for little abdominal strength. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

4.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
The shock technology allows the monoskier to get on and off the lift with ease. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

5.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Instructors, John Wanberg, and the OutThere team block the cat walk so that Kaitlin can pass through safely. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

6.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Kaitlin got more comfortable on the hill the more turns she made. Sophie Goodman, OutThere Colorado's Content Marketing Manager, and I were loving skiing with the NSCD crew! Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

7.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
A narrow cat walk provides a challenge to even an intermediate monoskier. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

8.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Kaitlin works her way down the slope, adjusting her balance and rhythm (and avoiding other skiers!) as she goes. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

9.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Katlin pushes herself toward the lift with pointers from NSCD instructors and the encouragement of her husband. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

1o.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Instructor Briana Helling gives Kaitlin some pointers as she works on controlled, rounded turns. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

11.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
The instructors help Kaitlin readjust herself in the seat so that she's secure and balanced after getting off the lift. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

12.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
Kaitlin and her husband, John, scout a line to the base. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

13.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
The NSCD instructors help Katilin up after a fall. It requires an immense amount of upper body strength to get back up. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell. 

14.

NSCD Winter Park - OutThere Colorado
John and Kaitlin Wanberg pose at the base after an awesome morning on the hill. They are working up to Kaitlin being able to ski on her own without instructors. Photo Credit: Katie Rae Spell.