Three years ago we never could’ve imagined Callie being on a ski slope. But last week she was.
Callie wanted to go some place snowy, so the Make-A-Wish Foundation sent us to Smugglers’ Notch ski resort in Vermont. No one in our family had ever set foot in skis so we were in for an adventure.
We packed our car — yes, we drove — and traveled two days and 1,000 miles to Vermont.
Smugglers’ Notch has an adaptive program for people with special needs along with specially trained instructors, so they were more than equipped to handle Callie. Callie used something called a Bi-Ski, which is like a little sled with skis on the bottom. After getting over her initial fear of having strangers customize the seat to meet her needs, she had a blast. She even got to go on the ski lift!
Smugglers’ Notch had all sorts of other fun things that Callie loved — a Ben&Jerry’s ice cream shop, shuttle buses, a heated pool and special Smugglers’ Notch mascots. Callie was particularly fond of Mogul Mouse.
The staff there was amazing! They gave us all ski or snowboard lessons and made sure we had the appropriate ski equipment and clothes. After our first day out in the snow it became clear why they said we really shouldn’t ski in jeans.
We’d like to especially thank Smugglers’ Notch public relations director Karen Boushie who coordinated our stay and went above and beyond to make Callie’s trip special. She arranged a sleigh ride at a nearby farm and took care of many little important details that tend to get overlooked.
We’d also like to thank Alisa Anderson, who manages the special needs program and was Callie’s instructor. Her last-minute flexibility and accommodations based on Callie’s specific needs at the time were invaluable.
Gene, one of our instructors, was Peter’s constant companion for three days. There’s no telling what Peter told Gene about our family. Fortunately Gene doesn’t seem like the blackmailing type.
And, of course, this trip would not have been possible without the staff and donors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We’re especially grateful for Liz Patton, Callie’s wish coordinator.
We had a wonderful three full days in Vermont and were sad to leave. But we packed up our car — again — and drove two days and 1,000 miles home.
It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.