This was a day created by those who design promotion brochures! Everything was perfect! The sky was blue and sunny, the weather warm with patches of crispness; the leaves were golden and red, and the rich carpets of grass on the slopes, and on the nearby golf course, were verdant and green. If this kind of perfection holds out in the winter, it should be an excellent ski and snowboard season.
There were hundreds of people enjoying the friendship, food and fun. There was a free chair lift ride up the mountain, and down, for those who did not want to walk. Alas, there were no mountain bikes in sight. For the children, there was face painting, scarecrow stuffing (with hay), live music, and dance performances.
The picnic did not seem as crowded as in past years, because of competition from football and baseball games. But there were long lines of people buying season passes, at the special rate of $399. The discount sale continues until Halloween, and the pass is good for Liberty, Whitetail, and Roundtop. Whitetail holds its fall festival October 25th and 26th, 2008. There is a large ski swap at Whitetail, and season passes are also on sale.
At Ski Liberty, there were tables set up with volunteers from the ski and snowboard schools, the ski patrol, and the adaptive ski programs. They all may need some additional volunteers or workers, but the requirements may be stringent, and involve years of special training and testing. That is what makes the programs so exceptional.
Charles and I spent some time with our friends at the Adaptive skiing table. Adaptive sports and wounded warrior projects are a special interest of ours. The Liberty Center is probably the finest one in the Pennsylvania area near Washington (although most areas now have some programs for challenged and injured athletes). The Liberty Program is supported by Blue Ridge Adaptive Snow Sports, Inc, or BRASS. Leslie White has been the supervisor since 1997, ably assisted by her husband Richard and a band of dedicated helpers. On Sunday, we met Charissa Bowman, a young lady who majored in therapeutic recreation, and who interned with Disabled Sports USA in Alpine Meadows, California. All of these workers have to be skilled in skiing or snowboarding, know a lot about medicine, wounds, and injuries, and understand the complicated equipment used by the athletes.
We also met another wounded athlete at Liberty, William Ozzie Osterman. He and his wife Nancy are inspirations. Ozzie has skied all of his life, and worked at Liberty for years while a student. Later he lost one leg in an accident and injured the other one. So far, Ozzie has had 32 operations, and is not finished. But he proudly walked around on his new prosthesis, and was trying out the adaptive equipment. Ozzie says he can’t wait to get back onto the mountain, and will probably do so as a volunteer or instructor in the near future.
This year, the Wounded Warrior weekend at Liberty will be held February 27-March 1, 2009. The Warriors will come from Walter Reed Army Hospital. Usually there are 12 wounded service men and women, plus some of their loved ones, support and medical staff. The total group could swell to 50, by the time the Weekend occurs. The group usually stays in nearby Gettysburg. Everything is donated, by supporters at Liberty, Gettysburg, and across the nation. The wounded warrior projects continue to exist on private or corporate donations and get little, if any, government assistance.
BRASS is looking for adaptive instructors or assistants. Those interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org call (717) 642-8282, ext. 3479.
Whatever way you choose to get involved, try to go to the mountains. We all know times are tough and depressing but, fortunately, at least gas prices are going down. There are ways to cut costs, through discount tickets, volunteer positions, car pooling arrangements, or dozens of other things. But, take advantage of our wonderful resorts. Liberty, Whitetail, and Roundtop are beautiful resorts, less than two hours away from the Washington/Baltimore metro areas. As long as it’s cold enough, there will be snowmaking and sport. No one can take that away from us!
When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.
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