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Patient Stories

Adaptive Skis Allow Patients to Soar Down Slopes

Gillette hosted its 7th Annual Adaptive Ski Day for its patients and their families recently at Buck Hill in Burnsville, MN. Event organizers said the event was a success with dozens of patients and their families participating.

Adaptive skiing offers children who have disabilities the opportunity to Gillette patients enjoy adaptive skingenjoy a day on the slopes skiing. Depending on the skier’s physical ability, different types of adaptive equipment is available. Options include skiing upright, bi-skiing and Sit-n-Ski.

"Watching these kids become brave skiers in a matter of hours is very fun for us. Their heroism is unmatched by any other athletes,” said Marcie Ward, M.D., a Gillette rehabilitation specialist. “What's most remarkable is when they amaze themselves.”

Organizers, physicians and parents echoed a similar sentiment after partaking in the annual day of skiing: It was deeply satisfying watching kids with complex medical needs navigate on skis – a skill many parents and children alike thought might never be possible, Ward said.

"I started the day as a 1.5 but now I'm a 5! AND I made new friends!” one child exclaimed, Ward says. “See, we know they are athletes; but when they know it, that's their prize!" she said.

Beyond Gillette patients and families, others equally enjoyed the day. Volunteers continue to donate time year after year – doing whatever it takes to help kids enjoy the day. Each year Padraig’s Place Adaptive Sports, Mankato Area Adapted Ski Program, several physicians and employees volunteer as well. This year, eight Gillette physicians and their families made it out for the day. Seeing patients outside of the clinical setting is very rewarding, they said.