Learning to Fly
On an ordinary day in 1993, Dennis Grant’s life changed forever. While on duty with the Department of Corrections, Dennis suffered an accident leaving him a double amputee above his knees.
Years later, after adapting to life with prosthetics, Dennis’ life changed in a new way after gaining an opportunity to try something that hadn’t previously been available to him. Through the Northern Arizona Adaptive Sports Association (NAASA) at Arizona Snowbowl—he learned how to sit-ski at Snowbowl’s Mount Humphreys, the tallest point in Arizona where the base elevation is 9,200 feet above sea level.
After a few lessons, Dennis was soon ready to head out on his own. With each independent carve down the mountain, a renewed sense of self-esteem, confidence, and positive mood began to arise within him.
Dennis’ success gets to the heart of why NAASA exists in the first place. Driven by a goal to provide access to the transformative benefits of outdoor winter recreation to anyone experiencing physical, mental, or emotional disabilities, NAASA has impacted the lives of more than 1,400 riders of all ages in just seven years. The program brings individuals, often relegated to the sidelines, out onto the slopes to facilitate self-empowerment and community connection.
In 2011, Dennis was one of 12 students who took to the mountain through the program. The following year, after receiving a grant from the Northern Arizona Healthcare Foundation, NAASA purchased an adjustable sit-ski to accommodate a broader range of student size and ability.
Our Foundation has continued to support this program because of its focus on addressing a key priority for our region. With the help of our donors in increasing the program’s capacity and equipment inventory, nearly 500 new students from across Arizona got to ride this past winter season.
As for Dennis, he not only became a very advanced sit-skier but also the program’s first adaptive volunteer. He now gives back by sharing his passion for the sport with other disabled riders. “I love the freedom of being able to do a winter sport, and it’s just very invigorating to fly down the mountain and have total control on the ski,” he says.
For more information on NAASA and ways to support the Adaptive Ski & Ride Program through the Foundation, please contact Matthew Brasmer at (928)213-6538.