WESTON, Mo. -- A metro organization is helping people with all types of disabilities learn to ski. The nonprofit pairs volunteers with anyone with special needs; those who are blind, have autism or use a wheelchair.
Sean Gilbert, 20, uses a wheelchair. He can’t walk and he’ll never be able to run. But, on the slopes he's as fast as everybody else.
"When he is skiing it's the only time he gets to experience speed where he's under control and if you notice his face when he's coming down he's happy," said Herb Tuttle, a volunteer with Midwest Adaptive Sports and Assistant Dean of Engineering at the University of Kansas in Overland Park.
Gilbert has Cerebral Palsy. Despite not being able to walk, he can ski with the help of Tuttle and a specially adapted pair or sit skis.
"Because Sean is in a wheelchair we use a sit ski for him to get around," said Tuttle. “I’m tethered up to him with a cord so that we don't separate from ourselves.”
Midwest Adaptive Sports is a is a 501(c)(3) organization helping people with disabilities get back into sports. Thanks to its winter ski program Gilbert and Tuttle have been hitting the slopes at Snow Creek in Weston for the past 11 years.
“He sings to me on the chair lift and when he comes down he's belly laughing because he enjoys the speed, enjoys the fun,” said Tuttle.
It’s an experience Gilbert's mom said has given her son freedom. "Well he just smiles ear to ear and you know there’s no words," she said. “He talks a lot more especially on the way home now his talking you may or may not understand it but he chatters and just loves to tell you all about it."
Midwest Adaptive Sports relies on donation and volunteers who can ski. To learn more about Midwest Adaptive Sports and how you can donate or volunteer visit: http://www.midwestadaptivesports.org/