Caution: Blind Boarder

Earlier this year, I tried skiing for the first time as a vision-impaired person. You must be wondering how this is possible. Well, the Breckenridge Outdoor Educational Center (or BOEC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to making outdoor recreational activities possible for people of all ability levels. This means the blind, the amputee, the autistic can ski in the winter or raft the whitewater rapids in the summer. Instructors are highly skilled and trained, and I can speak from personal experience because Jeff, my ski instructor in February was fantastic, and this time when I tried snowboarding, Wendy was also phenomenal.

That’s right, I tried snowboarding this time. I had wanted to snowboard in February since my husband and friends mostly all board, but the BOEC warned me that snowboarding was harder to pick up and that I’d be better off skiing if I were only staying for a couple of days. But this time, I defied my senses and decided to try boarding anyway.

Off to Breckenridge again we go. It was the very beginning of ski season so the snow was pretty icy. But to my surprise, I picked up boarding basics in 1.5 days! I owe it all to my awesome instructor, Wendy, who got me doing toes the first day and then some heels and even connecting a few turns by second day’s end. I used to skateboard a little when I was in high school, so maybe some of that carried over. Mostly (aside from the great instructor), though, I think my fearlessness gave me an edge. Most of my friends when they first learned to board fell frequently because they were too scared of the slopes. But because all I could see was vast whiteness, I didn’t know how steep a run was or where the cliffs were, so I had to just trust my teacher and my instincts. And this gave me almost no fear. Of course, every time I knew I was about to crash, I did get scared, but only because my tailbone remembers exactly how much it hurts to fall. Now as I write this post, it’s been a couple of weeks since the trip, and my tailbone is still hurtin’. What I want for Christmas? Butt pads, please!

Snowboarding was fun, and I found it easier than skiing. I had less motion sickness this time which made the experience more enjoyable. (The motion sickness is from not being able to tell if I’m moving or at a standstill because everything is just white.) I also got to see a very pregnant Erin while there. It was good to catch up in person even though I’d just seen her the month before at NMO Patient Day. This time, though, both our husbands got to also catch up.

John caught some of my boarding on video. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. I hope this both encourages and inspires all of you out there living with a vision impairment or Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) to realize that you can do almost anything if you put your mind to it and want it badly enough. Don’t let the disease limit your joy in life. Happy holidays!