On a beautiful Sunday in June, the Afton Alps Ski and Ride School hosted its first annual golf tournament in support of the Courage Kenny Foundation Adaptive Ski and Snowboard Program.
One of the largest adaptive ski and snowboard programs in the country, Courage Kenny Ski and Snowboard provides more than 1,200 lessons per year at seven sites across Minnesota and Wisconsin and is supported by 400 volunteer instructors. The program has provided one-on-one adaptive skiing instruction and winter recreation opportunities to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds for more than 40 years. Participants range from 6 to 60+ years of age with disabilities including: Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Spina Bifida, Stroke, Autism, Visual Impairments and many other disabilities.
Afton Alps does not operate an in-house adaptive ski and ride program. However, this season, Courage Kenny Foundation established a trial program at Afton Alps. The feedback we received from participants and their families and our staff who interacted with the program was unanimously positive. As a result, it was an easy decision for our Ski and Ride School to throw its support behind building this program by hosting a golf tournament.
The sold out tournament was a huge success by every measure. Seventy-five instructors, friends and industry partners played in the 9-hole tournament with another 22 persons joining us for dinner. Thanks to the participation of eighteen snow sports equipment manufacturers and local retailers and with help from Epic Promise and Epic Mix, there were t-shirts and draw prizes for every participant. When all the proceeds from hole sponsorships, registration and raffle sales were combined, the inaugural event raised more than $5,000 for Courage Kenny Foundation – enough to purchase two new bi-skis.
The highlight and most poignant moment of the event came when Rachel Swanson (photo below), a participant in the Courage Kenny Foundation adaptive ski program, spoke about her involvement. Rachel is an adventurous woman in her mid-thirties with Cerebral Palsy who has lived independently for 16 years. Her adventures include mountain climbing in Colorado, being featured in a movie about her segment of a cross country bike trip and skiing with Courage Kenny Ski & Snowboard for 10 years. Rachel relies on a Dynavox – a speech-generating device - to communicate. Even though we heard a mechanical voice, Rachel communicated a true emotion when she described the first time she attempted to ski with Courage Kenny Foundation through to describing the ongoing value the Courage Kenny Foundation ski program brings to her life, in terms of freedom, enjoyment and confidence. We often talk about our passion for skiing but clearly Rachel is more passionate about the sport than most of us!
Afton Alps SRS is proud to be a proud supporter of Rachel and all the other Courage Kenny Foundation participants and is already planning next year’s tournament.