SkiDUCK gives disabled and unprivileged a chance to hit the slopes
New to New Jersey, this healthy enrichment program brings a chance at something new
When Corbett started the New Jersey chapter, it was easier for her to get the ski/snowboard areas on board than it was to find children to match with the program.
VERNON — A SkiDUCK has flown in from the west and has landed in New Jersey — at Hidden Valley ski area to be exact.
Skiing and Snowboard for Disabled and Underprivileged Children and Older Kids (SkiDuck) now has a local chapter, thanks to New Jersey born and raised Cheryl Corbett. Corbett, who only began skiing in 2010, appreciated all that the sport had already given her, and decided to help east coast youth have a similar experience.
SkiDUCK began in 2009 and is a national, non-profit, grassroots network of local community chapters run by volunteers who, according to Corbett and the website, skiduck.org, are “dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled and underprivileged children by teaching and sharing the joys of skiing and snowboarding.“
The organization was started by Clint Lunde, and began in the Lake Tahoe, CA area.
Four major slopes jumped on board the first year and included Squaw Valley USA, Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl and Tahoe Donner.
Lunde and his band of volunteers worked with already established youth organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters to make connections with children who might not otherwise have access to the winter sports.
SkiDuck organizes with the slopes to donate lift tickets, lessons and equipment. They collect clothing including goggles, helmets, snow pants and coats which the children can use while on the mountain.
The organization served approximately 130 children the first year and has grown since then.
Corbett got involved through friend and SkiDuck board member David Westall.
Westall took the time to explain the mission and Corbett got excited right away. Once back in New Jersey, she contacted the area slopes and received warm responses.
Last year Hidden Valley, Tuxedo Ridge (Tuxedo, NY) and Mount Peter(Warwick, NY) all worked through Corbett to connect kids with the skiing and snowboarding.
This year, dates are secured with Hidden Valley and Corbet hopes to firm up dates with other local mountains.
When Corbett started the New Jersey chapter, it was easier for her to get the ski/snowboard areas on board than it was to find children to match with the program. Having never heard of SkiDuck, many local youth organizations were reluctant to become involved. The physical risks and insurance situations kept many groups from agreeing to handshake with SkiDUCK. Corbett eventually connected with Camp Vacamus in West Milford who was thrilled at the opportunity for the youth they service.
Fifty-four children in NJ participated last year and Corbett hopes to double the number this year.
Corbett sought out local sponsors. “Ski Barn in Paramus has been particularly good to us”, Corbett said. “They agreed to be a drop off location right from the start”. Ken Fox, an avid skier and Craigmeur Ski Club member heard about the organization at a New Jersey Ski Council Meeting.
Fox was moved by the idea of helping to connect children to a sport that he holds near and dear to his heart. Fox agreed to help by promoting the organization and making his office (Fox Architectural Design) located at 546 Route 10 West in Ledgewood a drop-off location as well. The New Jersey Ski Council has collected countless pairs of goggles and other equipment, which was recently delivered to Corbett for the cause. Hidden Valley in Vernon is also a drop off location.
Although the Chapter is off to a good start, Corbett said volunteers are still needed. Adults to help kids through the rental process and to guide them to lessons, instructors, and lunch as well as buddy up for free riding in the afternoon. Two SkiDuck events are presently scheduled at Hidden Valley, Jan. 23 and Feb. 6.
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