I want to share a photo of my favorite ski buddy this year. Ben is an 11-year-old Developmentally Disabled little “pro” skier who instantly let me know that skiing was his favorite thing in his “whole life.” The first day of the eight-week volunteer program, I helped Ben find a silver helmet that seemed so wonderfully “superhero” compared to his thick wire-rimmed glasses and tiny little face.
Ben easily and naturally slipped his gloved hand into mine within a minute of meeting – a surprise (I’m grinning right now just thinking of the warm fuzzies). He held my hand often when loading and unloading the chair but assured me he REALLY knew what he was doing when it came to skiing. Ben’s main preoccupation was SPEED and making sure everyone saw him go fast. He would yell up at the peeps on the chairlift. He would yell to the sky and trees and he’d yell just for the hell of it from pure happiness while constantly asking me, “How fast was I?! How fast was I?” I assured him that his speed matched his silver bullet helmet. He said my skis were the “BEST skis EVER!!! – which tickled me since they are an old used pair without all the beautiful fine fun graphics of trendy skis but then he told another fella we sat with on the quad lift that HIS skis were the BEST skis EVER!!! So it went with many things being the BEST EVER in his life. One lift ride, Ben rattled off 3-4 things he was thankful for so I kept him going, both of us thinking of things we were thankful for all the way to the top of the lift. We repeatedly found our “favorite things” each day we skied together. He said he wasn’t very strong yet but that he did have “little muscles and they were going to grow into BIG muscles.” I asked him what he planned to eat to make his muscles grow and he said without hesitating, “BROCCOLI.” We always danced to the liftee’s music while waiting for the chair and sometimes sang while riding the chair.
I assured Ben that when superheroes in silver helmets ski really fast they are like silver bullets and you can’t see them which put a stuck-on-forever grin onto his face and eased the consternation he felt that no one seemed to see how fast he could snow-plow down the slope. I had a blast sharing some magical moments this winter with that sparkle soul Ben.
For more information (or to support) the Eaglemount Program visit their website.