Volunteer Profile – Courtney and Nick Mimmo

April 20th, 2015

Courtney and Nick Mimmo both started with Ignite this fall and we chatted about their experience with Ignite for a little while a few days ago.

Courtney and Nick Mimmo

Courtney and Nick Mimmo spending time at Eldora.

Courtney, was recruited at the Farmers Market when shopping with my visiting mother. After hearing that the program helped kids and adults on the Autism Spectrum, my mother said I should really go and check it out (my nephew is on the spectrum). Nick and I love skiing together, and Nick is an awesome coach/mentor, so this seemed like a great way for the two of us to spend time together and learn more about adaptive skiing.

After the first introductory meeting at the JCC, we got a really great vibe from the people (both organizers & volunteers) and the program was unlike anything we had ever learned about.

In the offseason we like to hike and enjoy the outdoors with our dog Baxter. We also enjoy exploring as much of Colorado as possible since this is just our second year living out here. There’s such an amazing high that you get after volunteering on the mountain. Nick and I feel so lucky to get to experience that. Our skiing has improved immensely and Nick got his PSIA certification, which wasn’t even a thought before joining Ignite.

Nick’s favorite place on the mountain is Bryan’s Glades and then the trailer happy hours after a great day of volunteering. Courtney loves listening to live music in Timbers Lodge after an enjoyable day on the slopes

Before my first lesson, says Nick, I was pretty nervous, but we had a VI student who had the most contagious positive attitude. I learned more than I ever could have imagined in that one day. It set a great tone for the rest of the season.
Courtney- I spent a Saturday morning with a CD/DD student who was 21 and had a busier social schedule than I did at 21. She was so fun to talk to and ski with. I learned a lot from her in the three hour morning session. It was one of the best days I had all season, and I don’t mean with Ignite, just ski-season in general.

Volunteering with Ignite has helped us a lot with our nephew. We love him and have always been close with him, but we feel so much more confident now building a relationship with him, then we did before volunteering with Ignite. So much that we’ve learned from the experience can be applied to our day-to-day lives.

First Parent and Caregiver Day a Rousing Success!

April 20th, 2015

The first ever Parent and Caregiver Ski and Ride Clinic in the country took place on March 27, 2015 at Eldora Mountain Resort presented by Ignite Adaptive Sports. Ignite Adaptive Sports is a 40 year old adaptive ski program that provides safe, fun, and affordable instruction in alpine and cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing to people with cognitive and physical disabilities to enhance their quality of life. If a student can get to Eldora, Ignite can get them skiing.

Addie at Copper Mountain

Addie with her family at Copper Mountain after the clinic

The weather on the 22nd was bright and sunny, the snow perfect. The clinic was lead by instructor extraordinaire Jacque Carbone assisted by Terri Rosenbaum and Keith Jimmerson. The purpose of this clinic was to instruct parents and caregivers the skills needed to be able to ski as a family with their children with disabilities. The three dads representing their families were a little nervous but those concerns were laid to rest as the lesson progressed and they realized that they had all the skills needed to ski with their children. The skills covered were terrain choice, lift loading and unloading skills, safety concerns at ski resorts, adaptive equipment options, ski down or call ski patrol, and ski skills needed as it relates to adaptive requirements.

One of the specific ski skills worked on was to ski pizza to french fries and back again in one continuous movement. That is to say snow plow ( pizza ) to parallel skis ( french fries ) and repeat. This teaches balance, speed control and stopping. Stopping is important. Left turns followed by right turns then coming to a stop are also one of the many skills that were covered.

It is always exciting to see the transition from worrying about what your child can’t do to now realizing all the things your child can do. To quote one parent “ The Ignite program is absolutely enhancing the lives of it’s fortunate participants, making what once may have seemed impossible, possible”. The first ever Parent and Caregiver Ski and Ride Clinic was safe, informative, and FUN, the first of many to come.

Bob, who joined the clinic has been waiting for a class like this for many years and was elated when Jacque sent the email announcing it to parents. He signed up right away and was ready to go in the early March morning of the clinic. “The students in the class happened to be three guys, which was a good thing in a sense. If I can ski down and maintain control with a 180 pound guy, I should be able to control the speed of my seven year old girl.”

Bob was excited about trying the equipment that is used in lessons at Ignite, including the ski bra and the hula hoop. “It’s one thing to hear about these tools and very different to experience skiing with them. It’s great to see how I can share the joy of skiing with other people if I join the program. I’m thinking about joining the program next year to be able to ski more with my daughter and share the love of the mountain with more people.”

Bob’s participation in a real lesson with his daughter the weekend after the clinic drove home the lessons of the clinic. With three instructors, they were able to have her ski independently a distance of about 20 feet toward him. “It was a great feeling to see my daughter standing and skiing on her own!”

The short drive up to Eldora is a great help to the family. Through the lessons with Ignite, they have become friends with many other families that participate in the program and joined the ranks of season pass holders that were introduced to the gem that is Eldora through Ignite.

Bob’s daughter loves skiing and everyone at Ignite, human or plush. This always gives her a big smile going up to the hill and coming home. Off the mountain, she prefers swimming and ballet. We look forward to seeing her and Bob on the mountain next year.

Heidi Hatch Cross Country Instructor Awardee David Bye

April 20th, 2015

We at Ignite are elated that one of our own, David Bye, has won the Heidi Hatch Cross-Country Extraordiaier Instructor Award and we got a hold of him to hear more about his story.

David Bye

David Bye, Heidi Hatch Cross Country Instructor Awardee

This is a little bit awkward. I didn’t learn of the award until Monday of this week, when Finn told me I had won it, and that he had picked it up for me. I still have not seen the award itself. To say the least, I was surprised by the news.

The selection was made by the staff of the Nordic program–we were each asked to pick someone and then explain why we made that choice. So I don’t know whether I got the most votes or had the best reasons, or some combination of both.

I worked hard (as all Nordic instructors do) during the clinic. I was able to ski with the fastest student skiers, and I had some wonderful students. I think a part of the reason I was selected is that I was the oldest instructor there, and some of the others saw me as a role model for denying aging.

Upon hearing I won, I had a wide array of feelings. After I recovered from the initial surprise, I felt proud and a little grandiose. After all, these were instructors from all over the United States, many of whom have attended the WSC for 15 years or more, and they selected me.

Then I began to feel like an imposter–could this all be a bad joke? How could I have won? I wondered if the other Ignite instructors would be put off by my winning. How could he have won?

Finally I became more comfortable with winning the award. I did work hard, and I did good work. I made friends with the other instructors (it was my second year, and many of the instructors I already knew), and helped out as much as I could. “And, doggone it, people like me.” Now I feel gratified by having won the award.

When I started with Ignite, I had rather rudimentary skiing skills and teaching skills, and little, if any, confidence in either. I have learned cross-country skiing skills from Ignite instructors and from one PSIA clinic I took (encouraged by Ignite). From working with many different Ignite students and observing other Ignite instructors, I have learned to meet students where they are, assess their abilities and their aims, and work to assure they stay safe, have fun, and learn a little. I am much more comfortable now in meeting new students and having the confidence to believe I can teach them something.

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