Mt. Ashland launches disability program for adaptive skiers

MT. ASHLAND, Ore.– A non-profit from Bend is partnering with the Mt. Ashland Ski Area to offer a special program for people in the community that might not normally get the chance to ski.

Founded 23 years ago, Oregon Adaptive Sports has always been focused on providing an opportunity for people with disabilities. The two partners have been working for the past several days building up to a launch that was held on Sunday to showcase the new program.

The hope – spread the word so those in the Rogue Valley with a disability know they too can hit the slopes.

“It’s a blessing and a curse you could say about winter sports,” said Pat Addabbo, executive director of OAS. “It’s often in a harsh environment that’s not the most accessible at first glance. It’s in the mountains and steep terrain. But the beauty of adaptive skiing it’s been around for forty, fifty years and there’s so much great technology.”

The ski area says it had about seven athletes sign up for Sunday’s event. Some were even young kids getting their first runs in. But this won’t be the last time they’ll get to do this.

“It takes a lot of trained volunteers and that’s what we’re doing this weekend is training those folks up so we can offer it without having Oregon Adaptive Sports folks here on site,” said Michael Stringer, marketing director for the ski area.

Stringer says this program is something the ski area is very excited to offer. They’re already seeing the impact it’s making with athletes of all ages.

Eight-year-old Jeremiah Rasmussen is one of those. He and his dad, Eric, came up to the mountain after recently hearing about the opportunity. Jeremiah, who is paralyzed from the waist down since he was born, went on his first run and liked it.

“It was cool to be able to see him do something that was that much fun for him,” said Rasmussen

While it was their first time, Rasmussen says he’s sure his son loved it and will come back again. While these opportunities don’t come often, he says it’s great to see the ski area now offering this program.

“The people that ended up doing the activities with [Jeremiah] were amazingly patient and very good with kids,” said Rasmussen. “They got him to do things that I didn’t think he would do. It was wonderful.”

The Mt. Ashland Ski Area says the program is available to adaptive skiers of all ages and disabilities. If you or someone you know would like to participate or book a session, you can call the Mt. Ashland Ski Area’s main number at (541) 482-2897.

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