GRANBY, Colo. — Ski for Light, Inc. (SFL) is an all-volunteer organization that enables blind, visually- and mobility-impaired adults to cross-country ski. Founded in 1975, it seeks to enhance the quality of life and independence of those adults and encourages participants to recognize they can accomplish more on the snow and in everyday life than others may have told them was possible.
Each year, SFL conducts a week-long event that attracts more than 250 blind and mobility-impaired participants and ski guides. The location of the event changes from year to year in an effort to spread the Ski for Light philosophy to as many parts of the United States as possible. Each disabled skier is paired for the full week with an experienced, sighted skier who serves as both ski instructor and guide. The two generally ski adjacent to one another in parallel sets of tracks that are prepared specially for SFL. The guide offers direction, instructional tips, support, and encouragement, and, when so moved, may also describe the countryside.
Participants come from across the U.S. and from several foreign countries. After a full week of skiing, special activities, and camaraderie on the snow, participants depart Ski for Light with a wonderful sense of accomplishment and motivation that carries over to every aspect of their lives back home.
The volunteer guides who attend Ski for Light are a special group of people. They come to share a favorite activity with someone who would otherwise not have the opportunity to participate. Ski guides discover that in the process of giving they are getting as much or more back in return. Many return year after year. However, SFL is constantly seeking new guides so it can offer the cross country skiing experience to more participants. New guides receive a full day of training. For the rest of the week, they are paired with experienced visually-impaired participants to hone their techniques as safe and effective ski guides.
Disabled participants range from folks who have never skied to elite racers. About two-thirds of the skiers participate in a 10 km race on the last day of the event. Most others enter the 5 km rally on an easier course. SFL takes great care to pair skiers and guides with complementary skills, who can best support each other.
The 40th annual Ski for Light International Week will take place Jan. 25 – Feb, 1, 2015 at Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado. Next year’s event will be Jan. 24 – Jan. 31, 2016 at a site to be determined. If you are interested in attending either event as a guide or participant, visit www.sfl.org, contact us at email@example.com, or visit Ski for Light on Facebook. SFL has nine regional affiliates, which run events throughout the U.S. Links to those events can also be found at the SFL website.