Our experience with WAS began in 1995 when my parents discovered WAS and got my youngest brother, Matt, involved. Matt was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome, and at the age of four was still not able to walk. My parents were looking for an experience where Matt could be part of the outdoors. Matt began skiing in a chair and had an incredible support system that helped him do this. After learning to walk, Matt was able to transition to skis. WAS became Matt’s adventure family. The mentors there instilled in him a desire to be in the outdoors. Matt learned so much more than just how to ski — he gained self-confidence and learned that he could do hard things. Doing hard things helped Matt become physically and emotionally strong!
I participated in most of Matt’s lessons and saw first hand that this program was changing people’s lives. I had a passion for skiing and a desire to help others do the same. I knew I wanted to be part of the WAS family, so I became an Instructor and worked with Wasatch Adaptive for three years. The moment a child learns to ski down a mountain, brings a smile and warm feeling to everyone involved — it’s a life changing experience!
Ten years later, my wife, Cami, and I welcomed Wyatt into our family. At this time, he had three older siblings, who all loved to ski. Our weekends were always spent together on the mountain, but it just didn’t feel complete without Wyatt in this gorgeous setting. Wyatt was born with a rare genetic mutation and sensory processing disorder. He spent several years in physical and occupational therapy learning how to recognize where his body was in relation to space. We hoped that Wyatt would be able to ski someday, but were unsure of his physical limitations.
By the time Wyatt was five years old, he had overcome many of his physical challenges. We felt that he needed Wasatch Adaptive to help him learn to ski. This would be a significant challenge. Wyatt’s first lesson with his Instructor was something to remember. Wyatt really struggles with new people, new situations, new environments.
And his first lesson was just that — a challenging, new experience. He took one look at his Instructor, started crying and buried his head in the snow, but his Instructor was quick to adapt, so she had a snowball fight with him! Wyatt left his first lesson with a smile on his face. He had a win that day, and we continue to celebrate those wins.
We have been so amazed at the step by step process that has helped Wyatt build and develop his skiing skills over the last 3 years. Wyatt now is a skier!! He loves to be on the snow and loves to ski fast! He has so much excitement in his eyes when he gets to see his “Ski Coach,” Allison.
Wyatt can’t always find the words to express how he feels, but you know and feel his emotion when you see the smile on his face. We never imagined it would happen that Wyatt could ski down the mountain with our family. WAS has made this such a fun family experience as we have been able to cheer Wyatt on this journey. WAS has even integrated Wyatt’s little sister into his lessons as she has been able to ski side-by-side with him. He has gained a confidence in and knowledge of himself, that he, like his Uncle Matt, can do hard things and can overcome difficult and new situations.
Wasatch Adaptive has made Wyatt’s dreams come true. It has been such a blessing to see the WAS program evolve over time. There are so many heart-aches and disappointments in life and in this world, that we celebrate the intermittent victories with great enthusiasm. This was definitely one of the big ones!
We choose to be supporters and donate to WAS because this program gives and represents pure and simple joy. WAS creates experiences for those good moments in life — to WIN, which we all deserve. Supporting those moments is WHY we give.
Interested in joining the Shipps in supporting Wasatch Adaptive Sports before the end of the year? Learn how to get involved in WAS’s Limitless Campaign!