FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Starting Friday, we’ll see athletes who push the envelope to compete, regardless of their physical disabilities, as the 2018 Winter Paralympics kick off in South Korea. But 12 News caught up with inspirational Arizonans at our very own Arizona Snowbowl, who defy the odds to get a taste of that fresh mountain air and thrill.
Grace Ehmke, Emily Kingston and Eden Roth were all participants at the 2018 Ski Able, put on by Arizona Disabled Sports, the Northern Arizona Adaptive Sports Association (NAASA), the Arizona Snowbowl, the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado and dozens of volunteers.
Ehmke enjoyed the independence of the experience.
“I just love that feeling because when I’m at home, I’m pushed around in this chair all the time,” Ehmke said.
Born early, doctors said life itself would likely be impossible for Grace Ehmke.
“My mom said it was ‘cause of the grace of God that I was able to be born,” Ehmke said.
The 15-year-old didn’t let her cerebral palsy stop her from defying the odds again.
About three dozen students got the chance to let go at the Arizona Snowbowl, thanks to the work of nonprofits and volunteers from Arizona and Colorado who put together the annual Ski Able.
“Thankfully, we have the capability of doing any student with any disability,” Alex Davenport with the Arizona Snowbowl and NAASA said.
“Some of them are a little hesitant. They’re not quite sure what it is that they’ve gotten themselves into,” Nina Bernardo with Arizona Disabled Sports said.
It was nerve-racking—understandably so for Emily Kingston. A high school ski trip left her paralyzed below the chest.
“Wow, it’s my first time back out here, but really for the most part, it has just been so much fun that it hasn’t been emotional at all,” Kingston said.
It was also the first time back for Eden Roth. Roth broke her back snowboarding when she was 20 years old.
“Told I would probably never walk again and so I told them that I didn’t agree with them and that I would walk again,” Roth said.
Seven years later, Roth went even further as she snowboarded without the aid of an adaptive bar.
“This was my year to get out there and try something new and not be scared,” Roth said.
“Getting right back up there and proving not to other people, but just to yourself that you can still do this,” Kingston said.
“You don’t need to have a perfect life to be able to enjoy yourself,” Ehmke said.
Click here to learn more about Arizona Disabled Sports.