Ski for Light draws skiers from across the U.S. | SkyHiNews.com
Jennifer Foster
jfoster@skyhinews.com

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Ski for Light draws skiers from across the U.S.

From the left, Diane Muhr, Burlington, Vt., Heather Berg, Colchester, Vt., Amy Brannan, Bend, Ore.

Snow Mountain Ranch is bustling with activity this week. The 42nd annual Ski for Light International Event has once again brought skiers to Grand County.

Over 260 individuals are here from all over the world. This will mark Snow Mountain Ranch's 10th non-consecutive year to host. The program is in different locations around the country each year to financially facilitate the experience for all who desire to join.

"This has been an unprecedented year," said Heather Berg, Event Chairperson.

Heather is referring to not only mobility and visually impaired participants, but also a group of dynamic volunteer guides, in addition to the beloved Worker Bees.

According to Lead Guide Trainer, Amy Brannan, the guides have over 40 first or second year volunteers this year, not including veteran guides. They are paired at the beginning of the week with a participant to assist during activities. These guides provide assurance and boost confidence for their ski partner throughout the week.

Guides customize themselves to fit the needs of their partner while adhering to the importance of safety, communication and fun.

Worker Bees are family and friends of event-goers; these Bees offer support in a variety of ways like walking Service Animals, helping with meals and general property guidance.

The entire program is unique in that it is entirely produced by volunteers. The executive board and planning committee consist of an equal amount of visually and mobility impaired individuals along with those who can see.

It certainly takes an enormous amount of effort to put on such an event where attendees never cease to have something to do. Each day and night have a variety of exciting gatherings. From daily skiing, to a Wild West night, biathlon training, group discussions and presentations. The participants stay engaged all week.

"This year has been fantastic," said Diane Muhr, a second year volunteer guide.

"There's little down time. Ski for Light tires you out. But in a good way."

Ski for Light International is an annual gathering, modeled after the Norwegian Ridderrenn Ski Race program, but there are also Regional events throughout the country during the year. These events bring a sense of community to mobility and visually impaired individuals who together share experiences, which greatly enhances and strengthens social relationships.

Ski for Light International encourages independence, emphasizing the importance of traveling alone and trying new things. The mission of the program is to improve the quality of life through new challenges. This year is no exception with 32 first-time skiers, some who have never experienced snow. This healthy sense of overcoming fear translates into strength in many areas of life for participants.

"It pays off in so many other ways," said Berg.

For more information about Ski for Light International, how to participate or volunteer, visit: http://www.SFL.org.