Adaptations: The CCASC Newsletter 7th - Page 15

A Volunteer ’ s Perspective

A Volunteer ’ s Perspective

By Charlotte Cooper
A childhood mantra of mine took on a new meaning when I first walked through the door of the Central California Adaptive Sports Center , affectionally known as Adaptive . This mantra is adapt and overcome . After witnessing what Adaptive has done to change so many individuals ’ lives – mine included — these words ring truer than ever .
I first learned about Adaptive a few years ago from a colleague and friend . After moving back to the Valley and craving something meaningful to do , I decided to submit a volunteer application for their winter program . Lucky for me , I was asked to be a Sweeper .
As a sweeper , my job was to “ sweep ” behind a participant and instructor all day , on every run . The task is challenging because the sweeper is assigned the task of tailgating the instructor and participant . This requires a high level of confidence and agility on your skis . I quickly learned that a sweeper needs to have good depth perception , downhill and uphill awareness , and the ability to anticipate the movement of others – most importantly the instructor and the participant . In essence , a sweeper acts as a bodyguard , protecting the instructor and the participant from skiers and snowboarders on the mountain .
For example , one morning I was sweeping for a sit-ski participant ( a bucket seat suspended on skis ) when a snowboarder who was attempting to quickly maneuver between the members of our group came within a foot of hitting me . Because I was sweeping very close to my participant and instructor , I was well positioned to make sure that the snowboarder could not distract or hit them . This experience underscored the importance of my role – to help make sure the participant will have a safe and enjoyable experience on the mountain without worrying about those behind and beside them .
A sweeper is also required to have a robust understanding of how to safely operate the equipment used by our participants . For example , many of our participants use sit-skis for a variety of reasons . But not all sit-skis are the same . Some have a hydraulic lift system that easily raises the ski to the level of the chairlift , while others require more manual operation . Particularly for sit-skis that do not have a hydraulic system , the instructor and the sweeper must work through various loading steps in tandem before hoisting the ski ( with its participant ) onto the chairlift . Depending on the size of the participant , this can be challenging . Once the sit-ski is positioned on the chairlift , the sweeper must secure it to the chairlift .
Charlotte helps balance a sit ski while lead instructor Randy Coffman makes adjustments to ensure a good fit .
Until Adaptive , I had never experienced a volunteer program that involves so much hands-on experience . The spirit of volunteerism comes from a great place . However , volunteering in certain roles at Adaptive not only requires a good heart , but also a strong body . Yet , I left every day with a full heart and complete satisfaction . As a lifelong volunteer , I have to say my most rewarding experience to date has been volunteering for Adaptive . I have met the most incredible people that will forever be etched in my mind . To say that I encourage everyone to volunteer at Adaptive is an understatement . This experience promises to be the most challenging , uplifting , and inspiring adventure of a lifetime . To every participant , instructor , and volunteer who get up every day and adapt and overcome , thank you for changing my life .

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