National Ability Center Celebrates Results from Vail Resorts' EpicPromise Grant

April 20 2016

PARK CITY, UT (April 19, 2016) – The National Ability Center is proud to highlight successes obtained from its partnership with Vail Resorts in their EpicPromise grant program. EpicPromise grants and donations focus on youth programs and initiatives that impact local communities where Vail Resorts has a presence. Through EpicPromise, the National Ability Center has been the honored recipient of cash grants, product donations and volunteer time to bolster NAC programs. The Mountain Center at Park City Mountain, where the NAC houses its ski and snowboard programs, is a key beneficiary of the EpicPromise grant. 

“Because of Vail Resorts and their generous investments, the National Ability Center is better able to fulfill its mission of serving individuals of all abilities,” said Gail Loveland, National Ability Center's executive director. “Our winter programs based at the Mountain Center at Park City Mountain have impacted countless lives for the better, opened unimaginable new doors and taught valuable, lifelong skills. We hope to continue this partnership with Vail Resorts for many years to come, and, thereby, continue changing the lives of hundreds of thousands more.” 

Celebrated success stories garnered through the EpicPromise partnership include the following testimonials:

Alma Steward—former program participant, current NAC instructor 

It was 30 years ago I was injured in a motorcycle accident, leaving me paralyzed from the chest down. While I quickly got back to work and involved in wheelchair sports, outdoor recreation left me feeling dependent on others. Somebody suggested I try the NAC's programs, and, through them, I was introduced to monoskiing. With the NAC's equipment and instructors, I was able to find an entirely new sport I never knew I could do and I found the independence I was seeking. I went from that guy in the wheelchair stuck in the snow to that guy out exploring the mountains and skiing where I wanted. Snow skiing was just the beginning of my NAC relationship. As winter turned to summer, I joined them for other outdoor recreation opportunities, from water skiing and hand cycling to river rafter and more. Because of the NAC, I discovered a world of recreation opportunities that might have been completely lost to me without them. 

Hunter Behr—program participant with autism (quote by mom, Valery)

The NAC's alpine ski program at Park City Mountain has been life changing for my son, Hunter. I'm so grateful the National Ability Center created this program and that Vail Resorts continues to support it. Recreational activities are vital for the well-being of kids with special needs, such as autism. The idea that my son can learn to ski in a safe, fun environment like all the other children who come to our ski town is incredible. Through the NAC's ski program, Hunter has experienced independence, the ability to trust his teachers, the ability to trust himself, increased confidence, freedom of movement and the chance to make choices, all while having fun! Hunter has had the same teacher for the past three years and the relationship formed has been very special. The peer buddies who have joined him during lessons have given him friends for the day, and, without Hunter knowing it, a chance to practice his social skills. I'm overcome with emotion when I think about how the NAC has helped my son become an athlete and taught him that he is capable of skiing, biking or doing whatever he wants to do.  

Jamie Crane-Mauzy—freeskier, program participant and volunteer 

On April 11, 2015, I was at a world tour finals in Whistler. I finished fourth after the first run, and, naturally, wanted to get on the podium. I decided to upgrade an off-axis grabbed backflip to an off-axis double backflip. If I landed it, I would likely place in the top three and become the first girl to land one on a slopestyle run. Unfortunately, I didn't land it. I hit my feet first but came up short and whiplashed my head onto the snow. I started convulsing and slipped into a coma that lasted for eight days. My brain was bleeding in eight spots, and, that first day in the hospital, the doctor suggested my family should prepare to say goodbye. Miraculously, I lived and just three months after my injury, my neurologist cleared me to do all sports. 

My first day back skiing was seven and a half months after my injury. I was ecstatic to be home skiing at Park City Mountain. I decided to let the NAC ease me back into skiing. I was familiar with their programs and knew they helped mentally challenged and physically unique individuals and those with life-changing injuries—I just never imagined I would utilizing their services. The first day was a gradual progression and the best part was having someone to ski with who was trained to notice all the fine movements of skiing. As I moved along from green runs to black diamonds and moguls, the National Ability Center moved with me. They kept me challenged, but safe. The National Ability Center gave me the gift of skiing again after my accident. On April 2, 2016, I was able to race as a legend at the Ability Snow Challenge, which is a remarkable event involving the NAC and Park City mountain. I love the resort and the NAC for all they given me in my life. 

Saylor O'Brien— program participant with spina bifida  

Born with spina bifida, Saylor, now 12, learned to ski as a four-tracker, meaning that instead of ski poles, she held adaptive outriggers to help balance and steer her turns. Saylor's mother, Audrey, says she quickly found a passion for the sport because she loves to go really fast. As Saylor's skills grew, her family connected with the National Ability Center in hopes that it would be a place to nurture her competitive side, while helping her discover the next steps in pursuing her racing dreams. Saylor signed up for Summer Action Camp, where she trained with young adaptive athletes like herself, while learning what it takes to make the jump from recreational skiing to elite-level competition. 

During her time at the NAC, coaches suggested she begin skiing in a seated monoski, which would improve her chances to fulfill her Paralympic dreams, but would mean she would need to go back to the fundamentals and re-learn to ski. The choice for Saylor was a simple one. She committed to mastering this new way of skiing and is actively training to one day compete in International Paralympic Committee (IPC) sanctioned events. Saylor seems to have an uncanny ability to look into the future, see possibilities and find the support it takes to pursue those dreams. Saylor says calling Park City Mountain her home mountain makes her extremely proud. She loves how the resort works with the NAC and is so welcoming and supportive of all the NAC athletes. She feels all the resort and NAC employees and volunteers are her friends and biggest cheerleaders. The competition programs at the NAC are her conduit to achieving life goals, which is a priceless factor in her journey. 

For a more information on the National Ability Center, it's athletes and the programs made possible through partnerships, such as Vail Resorts' EpicPromise grant, please contact Christa Graff with Graff Public Relations, LLC, at 435.640.7921 or christa@graffpr.com. Additional information about the National Ability Center is available at www.discovernac.org.

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About the National Ability Center

The National Ability Center empowers individuals of all abilities by building self-esteem, confidence and lifetime skills through sport, recreation and educational programs. Located in Park City, Utah, it is one of the leading community programs in the country that provides sports and recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The National Ability Center is recognized as a chapter of Disabled Sports USA and a US Paralympic Sports Club. World-class facilities and program excellence have also elevated the National Ability Center to be a premier provider and partner in the delivery of programs directly supported by the Wounded Warrior Project and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship. The National Ability Center provides more than 28,000 experiences each year. For more information, visit www.discovernac.org

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