Campers at Double H Ranch’s Adaptive Winter Sports Program got a special treat for opening day—a visit from Olympic skier Andrew Weibrecht.
Weibrecht, a two-time Olympic medalist and World Cup Skier, was on his way home to Lake Placid, New York, when he stopped at Paul Newman’s Double H Ranch in January.
“I have worked with the Make-A-Wish foundation for the past few years and a friend of mine who works with Double H knew about this and thought that I might be interested in doing a visit,” Weibrecht says.
Besides skiing with them, Weibrecht talked to the campers about overcoming obstacles and achieving success.
“I really love interacting with the kids,” he says, “they are so strong and driven to overcome their illnesses or disabilities, which makes them really fun to work with and be around.”
And, though not to the same extent as some of the campers, the Olympian is no stranger to obstacles. Like most ski racers, Weibrecht has dealt with ankle and shoulder injuries that threatened his professional ski career. But with all injuries behind him now, Weibrecht’s visit was about inspiring the young campers (ages 6 through 16), persevere through their own hurdles.
Double H Ranch, in Lake Luzerne, New York, is a ski and snowboard program for children with chronic illnesses and diseases.
“It is the only adaptive ski camp in the world that is independent of a resort and the only Paul Newman SeriousFun camp with a winter program,” Kate Gedney, the ranch’s development and communications assistant, says in a statement.
Double H Ranch has helped more than 20,000 children since it began in 1993. Specifically, its Adaptive Winter Sports Program started in 1998, and it takes place every January through March.
And it’s completely free for the kids to attend.
The 220 volunteer ski and snowboard instructors work to achieve a tight-knit feel with the campers, who range from children with sickle cell anemia to children on the autism spectrum, and Weibrecht was the camp’s first Olympic visitor.
“The spirit and will the kids have is incredible to see,” Weibrecht comments. “Equally impressive was the amount of support that the camp has on an almost entirely volunteer basis. It's incredibly inspiring to see so many people working on their own time to provide a better future for others.”
Weibrecht skied with the campers and even did a few laps on a monoski that the staff showed him how to use. Campers also raced him down the camp’s two trails, tried on his medals, and took pictures with him.
Max Yurenda, the camp’s executive director, says Weibrecht’s message to the kids was clear: “Don’t ever, ever give up. Through hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything.”
The Olympian’s takeaway from the day: “To be a part of Double H, which is giving kids a great experience, is in turn an awesome experience for me.”
Photos: Courtesy of Double H Ranch.