Specialized gear, instruction help people with disabilities ski

(WBIR-Beech Mountain Resort) It was a crisp snowy day at Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina, a perfect day for families to ski.

A lot of proud parents were watching their children speed down the mountain, including Kelly Mules.

"Seeing Kyle coming down the ski slope having fun with all the other people it's hard to put into words how touching it is," Kelly Mules said.

It's touching because it was a four day Adaptive Ski Clinic. Skiers with disabilities are outfitted with specialized equipment and taught by experts.

It's sponsored by Disabled Sports USA, Carolinas Rehabilitation, and the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center in Knoxville, where Al Kaye works.This is his 31st year with the ski clinic.

Al Kaye said, "The mission of the rehab center is to get people back into life. Nobody expects people to suffer a traumatic illness or injury and with that life doesn't end."

Life did not end for the Mules family, but it changed.

"We stopped doing stuff. We didn't go to the lake, we didn't go hiking, we didn't do anything until we were introduced to adaptive sports and it changed our life," Kelly Mules said.

In 2010, when he was 11 years old, Kyle Mules was struck by a rare condition called Guillain-Barre.

"I was paralyzed in less than 12 hours from my toes to my eyes," Kyle Mules said.

The whole family came along when he skied at Beech Mountain last year.

"It's fun to go down the mountain really fast. It's just fun because I'd never done this before. Well, this is my second time doing it in a wheelchair," Kyle said.

Kelly Mules said, "Seeing him out of his wheelchair in a sled going down a ski slope and on the lift and looking forward to doing it again just going fast and getting the snow on his face-- it's awesome."

Kelly is very involved with the adaptive ski clinic. In fact, she even did the art work for the official t-shirt of the week. But she said she is not getting on skis.

"I like drinking hot chocolate and watching him ski down. I'm a wimp," she said.

The adaptive ski clinic includes families in the experience and depends on more than 50 volunteers and 10 teachers who specialize in adaptive snow instruction. They know about disability issues and the adaptive equipment and how to boost the skiers' confidence.

This year, Kyle needs less assistance.

"This year they put little skis on my wrists then they hang back and I do it all by myself. They just tell me to go left or right," he explained.

Kelly said, "We've done water skiing and horse back riding and and we do snow skiing and we've done scuba diving since he got since and we're going to keep working hard and striving for him to have a full recovery but accepting whatever is in store for us."

A good time is in store for the skiers and their families at the Adaptive Ski Clinic.

Al Kaye said, "We bring a lot of smiles to people. We're able to restore people's abilities and restore their lives so through that we have a lot of happy faces."

(WBIR-Beech Mountain Resort)

(WBIR-Beech Mountain Resort)


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