Saturday, February 15, 2014

January 25, 2014 Ski for Light

Well, I am back from South Dakota and have been lazy for a few days enjoying the sun and humidity.   
I want to share what Ski for Light is all about.  In 2014, the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light celebrated it's 35th year.  I have been a volunteer since 1990 and have only missed 3or 4 years in those 25 years.  Dave started volunteering in 1988, but probably missed 10 years. 

As volunteers, we cross country ski with people that are visually impaired.  We register on Sunday.  We have an orientation and are paired with our participants on Monday.  Then we ski together Mon, Tues, and Wed and have races on Thursday.  The races are categorized by male, female, 2 age groups and partial vision vs totally impaired (or low vision).  They also have a rally race where you can estimate what your time will be and see who is closest to the estimated time. 

There is also a downhill competition for visually impaired and physically impaired participants with adaptive skis.  Dave has guided downhill and cross country.  I stick to cross country and snow shoes.

Over the years, we have become friends with many of the people who return each year.  We have also had family members and friends volunteer.  So this year, I was able to spend time with my sister, Beverly, who recently moved to Oklahoma.  She helps with selling t-shirts, hats, pins for the year, banquet and raffle tickets, etc.  So you don't have to be a skier to help.  Several of my girlfriends that cross country ski were there, too.  So it is like a family reunion.

Over the years, I have become good friends with the people I guide.  This year I guided a lady from Toronto, Canada who I guided 2 years ago.  We had so much fun together!  There were 12 people from Toronto, or were friends through their connection, that came to SFL this year.  We have spent time with several of the people we have guided during other times of the year.  And we hope to visit our friends in Toronto, too.  Many of them are sailors, which helped us bond even further. 

On Wednesday afternoon, there is a bonfire in the area where we cross country ski.  This year there was a wedding at the bonfire between two SFL participants that met at our regional SFL.  I believe it was 6 degrees at the time of the wedding. 

On Thursday night, there is an awards banquet.  Trophies are handed out for the races.  But there are also awards for various guides and participants.  This year, I was selected to receive the "Spirit award".  I think it was because I laugh the loudest, or maybe they wanted to guilt me into coming back next year.  Whatever their reason was, I was honored to receive recognition for just having fun.

On Friday, there is a tradition of going to the Saloon #10 at 10:00am for Bloody Mary's.  It is also a chance to say good-bye.  Over the following weekend, we spent time with our Canadian friends that stayed a few extra days in Rapid City.    

I was very glad that it worked out for me to return again this year.  I cannot say where we will be next January. 
I had to take the dinghy to shore with my luggage to catch a taxi to the airport.
Friends skiing together while our participants were either snow shoeing or snowmobiling.
 All dressed for the wedding in the bride's colors.
The bride with her father.  Even her guide dog was dressed for the occasion.  The tent in the background is where we go to warm up and have "refreshments".
Receiving our medals from the "trophy queens", my friends Debbie and Barb.
 Kaye has her trophy for winning her race and I have my "Spirit Award".

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