Adam Herrick, 15 and his sister Amy, 13 know the routine. On Sunday afternoons from early January until early March they head to Silver Star for ski lessons. They are beginning their eighth season with the Silver Star Adaptive Snow Sports.
Both Adam and Amy were diagnosed with Autism when they were preschoolers. Their mom Jen remembers the early days when they joined SSASS. “It was comforting as a parent that I could hand over my children for two hours and I knew they would be safe and happy.”
SSASS is a 100 per cent volunteer-run charity with trained instructors who offer ski and snow board instruction to individuals of any age who have a disability. A significant percentage of SSASS enrollment is persons with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
“Skiing is freeing, fun and adventurous” said Adam. He has progressed from needing equipment and two instructors to skiing independently and now skiing in a pod with other teens and instructors. Ritchie Leslie, one of Adam’s instructors reports: “Adam is a pretty good skier now.” Adam’s dad, Aron agrees and enjoys his father/son ski days.
“Amy has infectious enthusiasm,” said her instructor Nicole Martens. “She is skiing in a pod with her brother this season. Skiing with SSASS is really fun, comfortable and affordable.”
Her mom smiles, as SSASS does not charge for its programs.
Most of its operating budget comes from the Carter Classic Memorial Dual Slalom, an annual fun race and fundraiser for SSASS. Adaptive students are paired with teams of three or four able-bodies skiers. Teams collect pledges.
Amy has been in the Carter Classic several times.
“Last year I was on the team ‘Jumping Joeys’ and it was super fun,” she said, as she is looking forward to this year’s Carter Classic on Saturday, Feb. 29. To enter a team, sponsor a participant or learn more about SSASS: visit www.ssass.bc.ca.
In 2019, donations made it possible for 114 adaptive skiers and snowboarders to experience the thrill of Silver Star. Combined they had received more than 600 lessons.