RENSSELAER, New York — Sean Manchuck was introduced to skiing through his adaptive physical education program at Ichabod Crane when he was 8 years old. Sean was born with flaccid paralysis of the lower spine confining him to a wheelchair or walking short distances with long leg braces and crutches. As a child, he was quite independent and athletic and loved any sport opportunities offered to him which included skiing. STRIDE Adaptive Sports and Mary Ellen Whitney, his former physical education teacher and founder of the organization gave Sean his wings to fly when he learned how to ski in a mono-ski, a seated piece of adaptive equipment for skiers unable to stand.
STRIDE hosts adaptive ski programs at three mountains in the Northeast including Catamount, Jiminy Peak and Ski Sundown. Sean, now 21 years old, has recently applied for a position as a volunteer ski instructor at Jiminy Peak because he wants the opportunity to give back what he has gotten from the sport of skiing. Jiminy Peak has never had a mono-skier on staff, but proud to have their name on his jacket, as Sean is the model of what the sport can do for people with disabilities. STRIDE and its skiing program is in the business of changing lives.
Sean and his coach Mike Fairchild (Averill Park) and the CEO of STRIDE Mary Ellen Whitney will travel to Breckenridge CO this week to participate in the largest national event for individuals with disabilities. The Hartford Ski Spectacular is hosted by Disabled Sports USA which STRIDE is a chapter, Professional Ski Instructors of America, and Wounded Warrior Project. As part of the event, the US Paralympic Alpine Race team will host a mid-level race camp for young people who have racing in their heart. STRIDE applied for the scholarship on Sean’s behalf and was accepted. Sean will spend five days with his mentor coach, two time gold medalist US Parlympian, Chris Devlin-Young. He won the Paralympics SuperG at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games and took silver – just .17 seconds behind his teammate in the downhill. And he closed the season winning the U.S. Super G and GS titles. He holds the record as the first disabled skier to win Paralympic titles in two classes. STRIDE’s dream is to put Sean in the pipeline to becoming an elite athlete too!
STRIDE Adaptive Sports provides the technical expertise to teach people who have all types of disabilities how to participate in sports. Additional information is available by calling STRIDE (518-598-1279) or via email at [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/email] or visit the website www.stride.org.