WHITEFISH – DREAM Adaptive was started by a group of Flathead locals in 1985.
DREAM stands for Disabled Recreation Environmental Access Movement and the group is dedicated to making winter and summer sports accessible for all ages five and up with adaptive needs.
Aside from two full-time employees, the program is entirely staffed by volunteers.
Volunteers need to have ski and or snowboard training and be comfortable riding on green and blue runs. But no previous experience with adaptive recreation is required.
DREAM Adaptive Executive Director Julie Tickle told MTN News that the program is life-changing — especially for one child in particular named Jake Johnson.
Johnson came to the adaptive program two years ago and was terrified of skiing. Why? Johnson is nearly blind and only able to make out vague shapes.
Tickle and her colleagues started off two years ago just getting Johnson to touch and feel his boots and skis and finally got him skiing down the mountain.
Now, Johnson is standing up and skiing with the help of a special brace that has two legs on it that provide him stability.
Johnson told us in his own way just how fun skiing is for him, “Well, it is really good and well, it is really fun and it’s not just okay!”
Without DREAM Adaptive, people like Jake wouldn’t be able to enjoy skiing.
The group will host its fourth annual Backcountry PowderCamp on February 11 to introduce adaptive skiers and snowboarders to backcountry skiing.
“The camp provides an opportunity for people with a more advanced skill set to learn in a backcountry setting,” said Lucas Grossi, Dream’s Backcountry Powder Camp coordinator. “It’s progressive and fun for those who have the talent to do it.”
This year’s camp is stock full of talent, with three Paralympians on the roster. One notable athlete is military veteran James Sides from Silverthorne, Colorado. He was injured in 2012 during deployment, and once recovered, attended an adaptive snowboard camp in Breckenridge.
“It didn’t save my life, but it helped direct my recovery,” Sides said.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News