Blind, mobility impaired head for Deadwood slopes
     2015-11-20      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Courtesy photo In this photo from the 2014 event, skiers in the Ski for Light program take to the Black Hills for downhill and cross-country skiing, a rare treat for blind and mobility impaired participants. 
Blindness or mobility impairments won’t stop more than 200 people from taking part in the activities they love as they grab their skis and poles and take to the slopes this winter.

The 37th annual Black Hills Ski for Light event, scheduled for Jan. 24-28, 2016 at Terry Peak Ski Area and Wharf Resources Area near Deadwood, S.D., offers a week of both Alpine (downhill) and Nordic (cross-country) skiing, along with the option for snowshoeing. Entrants come from across the country and from Canada, and some of them from west Nebraska.

“This will be my fifth year participating in the event,” said Steve Senteney of Scottsbluff. “I like the activity. I learned to ski back in the ‘80s before I lost my sight. I was surprised to learn they had an organization that assisted people like me to ski.”

In addition to the physical activities, the Ski for Light event provides time to socialize with others from across the country. That includes a dinner trip to the historic No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood. Skiers are invited to enjoy a big bonfire and buffet celebration one night during the trip. The last night wraps up with a big banquet in Deadwood, which attracts about 400 to 500 people.

Karen Lemmon of Whitney, Neb., is helping coordinate transportation for the event. “We wanted to get other people involved in Ski for Light, but there’s a shortage of public transportation in west Nebraska,” she said.
“Fontenelle Tours of Council Bluffs, Iowa, got involved and we’ve all become volunteers for the program.”

Lemmon said they’ve more than doubled the number of participants from Nebraska this year. Last year there were 14. So far this year, 26 have signed up. That includes nine from the Alliance, Chadron and Scottsbluff.

All transportation costs are funded through donations, grants and fundraising events. “The entire Ski for Light program is made up of volunteers,” she said. “It’s all about giving blind and mobility challenged people the opportunity to do some of the activities they wouldn’t do normally. It’s both fun and a great self-confidence booster for everyone involved.”

Ski for Light is an international organization, started in Scandinavia in the 1920s. Among chapters worldwide, the Black Hills event is one of the most popular.

For more information about the program, call Lemmon at 308-667-2054.

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