If you ski Snowbird regularly you’ve seen the distinctive adaptive equipment used by Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS) and their clients. These often take the form of mono skis, bi-skis or cart skis. You’ll recognize WAS instructors and volunteers by their distinctive black logo jackets and sunny dispositions as they help others experience the mountain in a way many of us take for granted.
This week your correspondent was fortunate enough to spend time with a new group as they came to Snowbird for the first time. Ricardo is a veteran of Afghanistan and a double amputee who is learning to ski. The Bronx native found himself adrift in life as a young man working at a hospital in Boston when a conversation with his half brother led him into the Army. Not because he encouraged him, just the opposite. But the young Mexican/Puerto Rican American woke up one morning and realized, “I needed to be part of something bigger than me” and so, inspired, he joined in 2009. His final patrol in country on his first deployment in 2011 led to the IED that took his legs. 115 surgeries later another chance encounter led him to Molly Raymond
Molly was a career nurse but a tragic accident in 2004 removed her profession and her outdoor activities from her life and she found herself on a long road to recovery. Even speaking was difficult. Five years later she was at the National Sports Center for the Disabled on a chairlift. “I was tired of hearing ‘Can’t’, ‘No’, and ‘Won’t’ all the time and here I found a community that believed in ‘Can’.” Life came roaring back.
But getting herself out into nature and sports wasn’t good enough. “I knew why I survived, and I realized that our disabled veterans were the perfect deserving community to commit myself to.” So, with her husband Mike, she founded No Boundaries https://www.noboundariesmilitary.org/ to provide one summer and one winter outdoor and comradery focused trip free to qualified disabled vets. “In our group there are no boundaries. We always find a way. And it’s the least we can do for these men and women.”
Out on the slopes it was obvious just how much both of these remarkable individuals enjoy their lives, each other, and the splendor of Little Cottonwood Canyon. If you’re inspired, drop them a note and some money; you’ll be glad you did.
Does Ricardo resent anything in his life? “I wouldn’t change a thing. I see life so clearly and you learn to appreciate what you have. I’d do it all again. I can’t believe I’m at the top of Snowbird on my fifth day of skiing.”
Canyon Blog’s day with Ricardo and Molly and the entire No Boundaries crew left him feeling grateful for Wasatch Adaptive Sports, No Boundaries, and all that this wonderful country has to give. And he’s looking forward to their next visit because Ricardo was the fastest mono ski learner this instructor has worked with, and he can only imagine what next year’s visit will bring. No boundaries indeed.