Local program offers adaptive skiing lessons to people with disabilities

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) La Crosse has a lot to offer in the winter, but not everyone can take advantage of it.

However, a collaboration between three organizations wants to change that.

The La Crosse Area YMCA, the North American Squirrel Association, and Mount La Crosse are joining together to offer adaptive skiing lessons for people with disabilities.

The North American Squirrel Association provides the adaptive skiing equipment, which includes seated bi-skis and mono-skis, as well as standing downhill skis.

Mount La Crosse instructors, along with volunteers, give hour-long, one-on-one lessons to each participant.

Their goal is to show people that skiing is accessible to everyone.

“The smiles you see coming down the hill are priceless, and the reactions you get from family members who thought this might not have been an option for their participant is really great to see,” said Bri Spicer, La Crosse Area YMCA Inclusion and Adaptive Director.

One participant has been both a mother cheering her child on and an adaptive skier.

Jennie Melde signed one of her sons up for the program five years ago, but when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013 she decided she’d ski down the slopes with him.

It’s become a special family activity for her and her sons, and how she commits to staying active.

“You know, having Multiple Sclerosis has really changed my life and what I can do, but my passion to be active and be with my family has never ever changed, and it’s not going to knock me down, I’m going to do what I can do, and take opportunities like adaptive ski days to get out here and be active,” Melde said.

Adaptive skiing lessons are free for participants, and there are a few more lessons coming up.

The next one is Sunday, February 2nd.

You can register by calling YMCA Inclusion and Adaptive Programs at 608-519-5516.