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A Chirstmas Gift

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
The following is an article written by James Noyes for the employee newsletter at Bretton Woods. (I shared this story with some of the other Moderators and got asked to post it.)

Inspiration in a window

Imagine sitting in a chair on the day of Christmas Eve looking out the window with the sun shining on your face, outside people are skiing down perfectly groomed slopes. Proud parents watch as their kids make their first turns, a boyfriend is teaching his girlfriend the “falling leaf” on the bunny hill. This is the picture perfect ski scene. It is enough to make you want to throw on layer upon layer of clothes buckle up those boots and grab your skis and head out to the ski lift. Now imagine that chair you are sitting in is a wheelchair. The picture perfect scene is more like some sort of cruel tease; you think that if only I could get up then maybe I could be on the other side of the window.

Claire is 25 years old from Manchester, England. She was here on holiday with her parents and two siblings. A bright girl with a devilish smile, quick wit and strong spirit. Claire was that girl in the window. Her family took turns sitting with her while the others skied, but still Claire was relegated to watching the fun every one else was having. Now, I know at this point you are thinking what a sad story, why is he sharing this with us? Trust me there is a happy ending. Terry Terry (that is his real name) is a volunteer for the Bretton Woods Adaptive Program and he saw Claire sitting in the window watching her family ski. He approached her and asked if she would like to join her family and go skiing. Claire responded with a puzzled and perhaps annoyed look. Terry went on to explain that the Adaptive program helps individuals with a wide variety of disabilities get out on the snow. Claire was skeptical but interested and a short time later she showed up at the Adaptive office to investigate Terry’s story. After fitting Claire with her boots and skis she spent the rest of the afternoon skiing with Terry and other volunteers. If this seems like a fairy tale, well I can tell you that I witnessed this first hand and it is all true. I have worked at this Resort for a decade and my department has worked with this program since its inception, but until I saw the smile on that woman’s face I never really understood what it is that they did. I think we all can remember a time when we were flying down the mountain with the wind in our face under blue bird skies and that feeling like we were soaring. We were on the other side of the window and thanks to the volunteers of the Adaptive program now Claire is too.

After resting and enjoying Christmas day with her family Claire showed up the next morning and told me that she was now going to learn how to snowboard! Which she was able to do with a little help and that infectious spirit. I talked to Claire at the end of the day and she informed me that not only did she have a great time, but she was going back to England with a renewed spirit and a newfound love for snow and the fun it inspires. She also said that she is going to investigate whether or not there are similar programs available in England. I have a feeling that if there is not, we may have our first international Adaptive ambassador!
Now, I’m going to throw my two cents into this. James was a big reason that Claire had such a great experience. He runs the Bretton Woods rental shop. He came out and got Claire into boots that fit properly. This was no easy feat. (Pun intended.) Because of her disability, James spent a half hour finding the right sized boot to fit. Then he custom fit some lifts inside it to make sure it fit properly. He did this with both the ski boots and the snowboard boots.

Adaptive lessons are a team effort. James and the other Bretton Woods volunteers and employees put in a tremendous effort to make a great experience for her family. Claire skied with us on three days and at the end of each day her family was just ecstatic. They had come here with no idea that Claire would or could ski. Claire was worn out and had a smile from ear to ear. It was one of the most memorable lessons I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of.

I drove home Christmas Eve misty eyed. Claire’s smile was the best and only present I needed this year.

Damn, I love this job!

For those of you that might be interested in Adaptive sports, here's a link to Disabled Sports USA. ( http://www.dsusa.org/ ) You can find a variety of sports, both summer and winter, there along with local DS/USA Chapters.
post #2 of 6

Thanks !

Jan 1, 2007

Dear Claire, James, Terry and T-Square:

Thanks for sharing this moving celebration of the Human Spirit. May good health, fortune,happiness and the spirit of Love and Compassion be with us all in this upcoming New Year.


David Pee
aka CharlieP
post #3 of 6
This is the third time I've read this story, and I still get teary eyed.
Thank you so much Terry2 for being the phenomenal person you are!
post #4 of 6
T2 this heartwarming experience is a triumph not only of teh human spirit, but also a vivid reminder of the incredible good that some wonderful folks do for others . You are blessed
post #5 of 6
Since T2 allowed me to use this story in Open Your Heart with Skiing, I've put a bit more about the lesson and Claire, including some pictures that he sent me, up on my site here: http://stephenhultquist.com/brettonwoods/

Terry, you're a hero, and I'm honored to know you.
post #6 of 6
I think the smile on Claire's face in each of the photos says it all. What a wonderful thing to do for someone! No wonder you love your job T2!!
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