Noah Zemke, father of Finn, describes the joy skiing has brought to his son and family.
“As a father, I get a deep sense of pride being able to have a small role in these moments. Even though Finn is nonverbal, these moments provide him an opportunity to have a voice.”
Finn was born with physical and neurological global developmental delays that have never been diagnosed. He has visual impairment, muscle weakness, and is nonverbal. He has always been progressing in his development but at a slower pace than most children. Finn currently is working on sitting, standing, and hopefully will be walking with assistance in the next few years. One thing that my wife and I have found is activity and new experiences both go a long way for Finn’s well-being. His development and strength have greatly improved in large part because of all the different activities he has been able to do.
One of those activities is skiing with Wasatch Adaptive Sports. Finn went 2 times in 2016 and has gone 1 time so far in 2017. The first time I saw him coming down chickadee at Snowbird I experienced joy that I cannot fully describe. He was actually skiing on his own in a way I didn’t realize was possible. On top of this, the instructor he had showed by his actions that this program is about helping people. The kindness and attention Finn received was incredible! He was lacking some head control still at this point and Wasatch Adaptive Sports did a great job to adapt his ski chair to help him be comfortable, safe, and engaged.
As Finn goes skiing he has the ability to work on head control, core muscle strength, and visual awareness all at the same time. He also gets to have a blast cruising down the mountain side. This year, Finn’s first lesson was amazing. His head control and upper body strength were noticeably improved from the previous season. He was kicking his legs and very engaged with everything he was doing. His energy levels also have improved as he was able to do twice as many runs in his lesson than he did in 2015. The stimulating experience always is confirmed as Finn usually loves to take a nap on the way down the canyon back to our home.
One other thing that Finn gets out of skiing that some people may not realize is the ability to make an impact on others. There have been many people who have come up to talk with us about Finn and his situation. They are noticeably inspired by Finn because he is out doing his best and not using his disabilities to keep him from experiencing new things. As a father, I get a deep sense of pride being able to have a small role in these moments. Even though Finn is nonverbal, these moments provide him an opportunity to have a voice.
Wasatch Adaptive Sports has given Finn adventure, opportunity, and freedom. The program has also provided our family with hope. Having a child with undiagnosed neurological delays can create a lot of questions. What will Finn be able to do? What will our family dynamic be like? What will happen when he gets too big to be carried on hikes? These are just a few questions I have asked myself during the past few years. Although I don’t have all the answers and our family has accepted Finn exactly as he is, it is wonderful to have hope and realization that there are programs our family can utilize. I know that our family can all go skiing together without Finn being left out or having to sit on the sidelines. He can participate with us and I might even be able to ski with him! These small realizations go a long way in making a difference in our family. We love Wasatch Adaptive Sports and are so grateful for their dedication to helping people get out on adventures! I would encourage anyone that is on the fence about trying something new like skiing because of their physical situation to give Wasatch Adaptive Sports a chance in showing a whole new world of adventure and fun.
Wasatch Adaptive Sports
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort
9385 S, Snowbird Center Dr.
Snowbird, Utah, 84092-9000