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'If I can do this, I can do anything': Adaptive skiing at Bogus

Bogus Basin's adaptive skiing program meets on Saturdays and Sundays and is open to anyone with disabilities, impairments or persons with limited to no usage of limbs.

Learning to ski rarely goes according to plan.

"The parents come to me in tears," said Fernando Veloz.

But at Bogus Basin, those are tears of joy.

"They say how happy they are just to see their child out enjoying the wintertime," said Veloz, a co-director of Recreation Unlimited's adaptive skiing program at Bogus Basin.

For more than 35 years, the program lets individuals with hearing or visual impairments, developmental disabilities or limited to no usage of limbs learn to ski.

"It gives these students a whole new level of confidence with what they can do and how they can do it," said John Mulligan, the other co-director of the program. "Our motto is 'if I can do this, I can do anything.'"

Mulligan said the group has 60 students and 50 instructors.

A few of them are siblings.

Julia Burington, 16, helps out her brother Marcus.

"Marcus and I live outside of each other," Burington said. "He has his own schedule. He goes to his own school. I thought it would a good opportunity so I could be a part of his life and he could be a part of mine a little bit more."

The co-directors believe if you have basic skiing skills and a giving attitude they can help with the rest, which includes off-mountain medical training as well as clinics and symposiums through the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

"It's an intense study with all the different disabilities," Mulligan said.

"We went through training for a couple of weeks from everything from teaching blind students how to ski to skiing on ski bikes," said instructor Jack Kirkpatrick.

It's an all-volunteer operation, but the adaptive skiing program is rich with character.

"It's all about the community and this is a big part of what makes it such a special place," said Brandon Lane, who has two daughters - one is an instructor and the other is a student.

Adaptive skiing meets on Saturdays and Sundays.

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