"If I can do this, I can do anything"

Friendly Wheels, Issue 70
December 2013

With Challenge Mountain

 

For more than 28 years, Challenge Mountain has been enhancing the lives of people with special needs by providing accessible outdoor recreational activities.

 

Founded in 1984, the Boyne City, Mich. based Challenge Mountain came about after Darla Evans took her daughter Chrisi to a similar ski program in Winter Park, Colorado.

 

After visiting Colorado, Darla vowed to return to Michigan and start a similar program. With the help of many volunteers and a donation of 160 acres of land from Boyne USA, the old Walloon Ski area was transformed into Challenge Mountain.

 

The organization was built with adaptive skiing in mind, but the winter program also includes snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing. Operating year round, Challenge Mountain is not just a ski resort -- the summer program includes biking, camping, water sports and more.

 

Through grants, two resale stores, numerous fundraising events and many volunteers, Challenge Mountain can provide many of their services free of charge, including equipment, lessons and lodging.

 

From toddlers to 79 year-olds, people with a wide range of disabilities have enjoyed the freedom of outdoor sports.

 

Bill Astle makes the drive north from Grand Rapids, Mich. to enjoy the slopes. "I owe a lot of the success of my mono-skiing to Challenge Mountain and the staff."

 

The staff at Challenge Mountain is committed to providing an exciting day of fun without sacrificing the safety of their guests. Program Director Mike Hurchick stresses the importance of evaluating the needs of each individual before heading out on the slopes. For maximum safety, each guest's physical and mental abilities are evaluated, along with considerations for any medication they are taking.

 

Many volunteers have been with the program for more than 20 years, and some families have been involved for generations. Volunteers agree that time spent helping Challenge Mountain is well worth bringing a family together and providing an adventure they can all be part of.

 

"I am proud to have been part of the Challenge Mountain team for the past 8 years. I get way more out of being there than I give," said Lynn Malusi, a Challenge Mountain volunteer.

 

Mike, along with the other staff and volunteers truly believe in the Challenge Mountain motto of "If I can do this, I can do anything!" They have witnessed thousands of individuals accomplish things they never thought possible. "To see a smile on their face when they can get out of a wheelchair and experience the outdoors for the first time is very special," Mike said.

 

To learn more about Challenge Mountain or make a donation, visit http://cmski.org/.

 

Click here for a video of the Challenge Mountain experience.

 

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