Douglas students enjoy day cycling

For almost 26 years, the Skiforall Foundation has been providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in outdoor activities.

Last week, about 20 Douglas High School students in the special education and transition programs got the chance to try their hand at cycling.

Riding adapted cycles, students whooped and hollered while making their way around a make-shift course in the high school parking lot.

"Our whole mission is to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities through outdoor recreation," said Ed Bronsdon, executive director of the foundation. "Judging by these kids' reaction, I think it's a mission accomplished today."

The foundation reaches more than 1,700 individuals every year through programs across the Pacific Northwest including camping trips, cycling, cross-country and downhill skiing, day camps, hiking, in-line skating, paddling, river rafting, rock climbing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and waterskiing.

"It makes so much of a change," Bronsdon said. "Our message is 'For all.'

"When we run into folks that don't have or haven't had the opportunity to learn to ride a bike, that's what we do. A lot of kids are working on so many other issues where they have cerebral palsy or they are blind - something is going on in their life that prevents them from being successful on a bike.

"That is a touchstone for all of us growing up. I remember what it felt like when I first learned to ride a bike. I thought I'd conquered the world. That's what we are trying to give these kids."

Bronsdon ended up in Carson Valley almost by chance.

Last year, the foundation was struggling to find snow in the Seattle area so they came to Tahoe to do a vacation-experience for some Seattle-area residents.

The demand was so high that Skiforall decided to come back this year.

"Since we were having to bring a bunch of gear down to support the trip, things like bi-skis and outriggers and that kind of stuff, we figured we'd pack the trailer with a little bit more than we normally would," Bronsdon said. "We wanted to bring some off-snow things and that ended up allowing us to do some local programming right here."

Bronsdon said that the Fairweather Foundation, which is a supporter of Skiforall, had connections with the Douglas County School District.

"We made some phone calls and e-mails back and forth," Bronsdon said. "They hooked us up with Jeff Hendricks (an adaptive physical education teacher at Douglas) and we went from there."

The program was an instant success at Douglas.

Bronsdon said several of the students were apprehensive about getting on a cycle at first, but they gradually worked themselves onto a side-by-side tandem cycle and advanced to a various forms of three-wheel cycles or hand-crank cycles.

"This is such a great opportunity for them," Douglas High School special education teacher Sarah Frazier said. "I've been teaching here for two years and I've never seen anything like this come through here.

"We are very grateful for Skiforall to come here and work with the kids.

"It brings me to tears, just seeing the look on their faces. It's extremely cool, just to see them realizing that they can do this. The accomplishment is amazing."

Bronsdon said another function of the foundation is to open up avenues for the individuals to continue in an activity if there is an interest.

With prices for the adapted bikes ranging from $450 up to $4,000, he said many families shy away from the investment.

"Our goal is to get people out and active," Bronsdon said. "These regional programs give people a chance to see if their child will enjoy an activity. Once the individual realizes that they can experience success on a bike, they may want to continue. This gives people a chance to get something that fits with what their children will be interested in."

Bronsdon said that aside from the Douglas students and students from the local middle schools and elementary schools, members of the general public were stopping by to try their hand at the cycles.

"It's been a great couple of days and I think we were able to reach many people and touch their lives with this," Bronsdon said.

For more information on the Skiforall foundation, visit their Web site at

n Joey Crandall can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 212.


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