Monday, December 03, 2007

This Week: the Hartford Ski Spectacular, Breckenridge CO

Tomorrow we head down to Breckenridge, thankfully under clear skies for now, to the 20th Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular. Presented by DSUSA (Disabled Sports USA), this week-long event enables adaptive skiing for all levels, including racing events and instruction, and showcases ski equipment, new techniques and more.

In addition to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC), most instructors will come from Colorado locations: Adaptive Adventures (Evergreen, CO) Challenge Aspen, National Sports Center for the Disabled (Winter Park, CO), Steamboat Adaptive and Vail Adaptive. But instructors will come from as far east as the New England Resorts and as far north as Challenge Alaska!

This event is a very fun and interactive week of skiing, socializing and snacking- the parking lot is always full of activity and chapters of DSUSA and the Wounded Warrior Project making chili and other tasty and warming things for the participants to eat.

We're exciting to attend a couple days of this event again this year, thanks to Action Magazine (United Spinal). Look for our article on the event in one of the upcoming issues (TBA) for photos and stories from this year's participants.

For more information on DSUSA and the Ski Spectacular, visit

Friday, November 30, 2007

Opening Day Ceremony: Christie Peak Express

Amidst snow guns a-blaring, a line full of smiles and chilly noses, and muted clapping by gloved hands, the Christie Peak Express opened today as promised- with Craig on the first chair. They even waited until chair #1 came around, its cushioned liner brushed off of fresh man-made snow, roomy enough for six and a speedy ride to the top. The long line of Steamboat locals and Olympians, including Billy Kidd and Nelson Carmichael, was surrounded by staff, fans, and the media.

Super excited to take first chair, despite mechanical difficulties with his binding, Craig made a full, complication-free run down Vagabond to the remodeled base, and immediately called the Revolution factory to replace his ten-year old binding system. Nothing a little duck-tape can't help for the moment, though. The chilly cloud covered day promises snow, so keep your fingers crossed and your dials tuned for more ski season updates!

For full picture sequence, go to our Kodak Gallery.


Also see Andy's Straight Talk starting Saturday December 8th and continuing on Thursdays! Click on Snow Report on the newly designed for those.

if the video doesn't load, visit our you tube site for another copy of it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gearing up for Ski Season!

Craig is proud to lead the launch tomorrow during Steamboat's opening day's ceremonies of the new Christie Chair Lift with an all-star cast of olympians and supporters who purchased chairs from the old lift! First chair on opening day is an honor, and truth be told we don't normally ride on opening day although we should, as it doubles as "scholarship day" for the Steamboat Winter Sports Club and is not a pre-paid day for season pass holders. Tickets are a $15 donation charge for skiing that day, and this year scholarship day was supposed to be on November 21st last week before Thanksgiving. Due to snow the date was pushed to tomorrow, Friday November 30th.

In addition to tomorrow's ski area opening, Steamboat is proudly launching the brand new Christie Peak Express, a six pack lift that now departs from the front of the base, bends and picks up additional skiers at it's mid point, and stops at the top of Christie Peak. The lift replaces an old three-person lift that picked up skiers just above Slopeside grill, on the northwest side of the base.

So why is Craig riding first on this opening chair, before attending olympians even?

The old chair was used as an auction for a fundraiser for STARS, Steamboat Training Adaptive Recreational Sports, a new non-profit that will soon take over Steamboat Adaptive, still in it's fledgling stages of an advisory board (which Craig is on), planning, and fundraising. Steamboat Adaptive is the town's only recreation curriculum for visitors and locals with disabilities and STARS' goal is to expand the options well beyond skiing and snowboarding for this group of adventurers. Steamboat Adaptive is also ski-area funded, and by changing the monetary flow to a non-profit, the 30-year old program can grow well beyond what it is currently capable of. The ski area and STARS will continue to partner once the transition occurs (no set date as of yet), and work together to bring Steamboat's many recreational assets to people with disabilities.

Look for more photos tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

World Congress on Disabilities

Stay tuned for a full report in our upcoming newsletter on the WCD in Washington DC from November 15-17; but our highlights were:

Discussing improvements on accessibility with the airline representatives from Continental, Delta, and American.

Watching championship matches of wheelchair soccer!

Seeing the newest advancement in wheelchairs made from airplane metals, the Flight Ultralight Wheelchair:

Meeting Glaswegian Graeme and Ann from Triaid Inc, a company that makes a variety of tricycles for children, combining therapy and fun with one of the most reliable products on the market:

Look for two WCD Expos next year in 2008; Philadelphia in June and Jacksonville in November! Access Anything plans on attending both of these events, and is currently in the process of helping WCD organize adventure travel and recreation additions to this expo!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Myrtle Beach Additions

Myrtle Beach was fabulous and please stay tuned for articles in upcoming magazines for highlights on the area. I'm happy to report that resorts, golf, mini golf, the beach, and night clubs are all catering to people with disabilities.

In conjunction with the Winter edition of Palaestra, I promised to post the current beach access points for people with disabilities:

MB has 150 Beach Access points, 31 of which are accessible, and more will be added each year.

29th S Emg. Beach Access
24th S
23rd S Emg. Beach Access
20th S
19th S
17th S
16th S Emg. Beach Access
15th S
12th S Emg. Beach Access
9th S (Walkway only)
3rd N
4th N
7th N
14th N (South end)
1600 N
1708 N
1800 N
2106 N
2408 N
2504 N
34th N
41st N
47th N
48th N
51st N
64th N
65th N
66th N
69th N Emg. Beach Access
75th N
76th N Hdcp Acces.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Losing a Service Dog

It's taken me a long time to get around to this post becuase of the sorrowful and fragile subject of it.

After three long months of pain and one very short month of living with a disagnosis of bone cancer in her scapula, on August 8th, 2007, we had to put our beloved service dog, Mohawkie, to sleep at the age of 11.

I would prefer to talk about her accomplishments than the pain of her loss, so lets highlight her fabulous life instead.

We had Mohawkie for 5 short years, she was a rescue from a friend who could no longer handle her separation anxiety. We already had much knowledge of Mohawkie's life, as I had helped with some of her basic training between the ages of 2 and 3, and had begun to work her into backcountry rescue and water rescue training when her owner and I parted ways.

She was a wonderfully bright dog, half Akita, half Newfoundland, and was always eager to learn new things and be outside. Because of the long work schedule her owner had, Mohawkie wasn't able to do much of either.

But when we took Mohawkie's care over in 2002, she had a new opportunity and a new life. We took her anxiety seriously, and made sure to never leave her alone until she got over the fear of it, which in truth only took about 18 months. But with her intelligence, previous training, and gentle patience of a Newf, she was nearly ready to become a service animal when we got her. And of course, this meant never being alone.

We trained her for new jobs, such as to help Craig transfer, to carry things for him in her saddle bags, to pull him in his chair. We also continued to work with her on basic training that had been loose, such as "come" and "stay." Within 5 months she had passed her AKC Canine Good Citizen test with a perfect score, and was accepted into a Delta Society Pet Partner's program for visiting the local hospital.

Within a year she was able to be alone, left at the bottom of the ski area to watch Craig's wheelchair while we skied, and left at home only very occasionally, while most of the time she was with Craig during his daily routine, being an assistance, warming the hearts of people around him, and educating people at expos and events for people with disabilities on what a good service dog could be.

She traveled with us, bore her duties extraordinarily, provided soft fur for sick people and little kids, and most of all, loved us unconditionally.

She was truly the world's greatest service dog, and still, months later, we miss her dearly. I know we'll miss her for a long long time, and for fear of never quite being able to replace our "master healer" as she was often called, we've decided against getting another service dog. People still ask us where she is, and we can't quite bear to tell them.

Rest in peace Bear...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Destination Myrtle Beach!

I'm excited to hit the road for Myrtle Beach on September 30th to bring back good news of greatly improved access to the beaches and golf courses over the past few years.

I've been in contact with the Myrtle Beach chamber, Island Vista Resort, and several golf coures who have been proud to announce the area's new access highlights, including brand new ramps, beach wheelchairs, and ADA lodging.

Stay tuned for multiple articles on various subjects of Myrtle Beach, including Action Magazine, Palaestra, Active Living, Exceptional Parent, and hopefully the AARP!

If you have any highlights on this area, please let me know!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Updated Calendar for East Coast, November 2007

Stay tuned for updates on this calendar!

Current stops on our East Coast Tour:


November 15-17, World of Disabilities Expo, Washington DC

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another reason not to fly United

This letter came in to us from a friend who blew out both his MCL and ACL (knee) and had to fly United on crutches. It was so harrowing, that I had to share it. We've had Craig's wheelchair broked twice, his shower chair broken three times, and almost denied access because the new flight attendant mistook the word "pet" in her FAA guidebook for "service dog." But we stopped flying United a long time ago when we heard they were the only airline that did NOT go through disability training. We found out who got the highest marks on customer satisfaction -disabled or not- and fly with them: Continental.

So here's Damien's story.... (injured on a kayaking trip deep in the backcountry) It's long, but then, most of these stories are...

"I had to fly 2 days after my accident so I called ahead to get a wheelchair to my gate on all my stops. I'm on a free ticket so I stop about 14 times, which I don't understand instead of taking up room on one flight I'm taking up room on almost every flight United has that day, plus I'm traveling 10,000 miles to get to a destination that's only 1500 away. When I got to the airport in Raleigh they told me it was going to be a 30 minute wait for the wheel chair. I might have missed my flight if I waited so I crutched it down to the gate. Of course the gate I was going to was the farthest possible from the ticket counter. I must have been run into 5 times by gapers looking at the gate numbers and not where they were going or people just in a hurry to make their flights and didn't care who they knocked out of the way. I was also sore from paddling out the day before so I had to stop about every 10 yards or so and rest my arms.

I get to my gate and ask if I can pre-board with First Class. The First Class passengers look pissed that I get in line with them. It's a class issue, like I was scamming them with my fake crutches to try to be better than I really am. (On United they have First Class walk over a Red Carpet and then they rope it off and make everyone else walk around it. Is this the 19th century?? I almost expected not to have a window or life preserver when I got to my seat!!) When I get on board I ask them to make sure they call a wheelchair to the gate.
"No problem," the flight attendant says.

When I get to Dulles, no wheelchair. I try to ask someone but there is a line and the gate agent, not too politely, asks me to go to the end of the line as she thinks I'm trying to get on the outbound of the flight I was just on and am cut because of my crutches. I can't wait and hobble again to the next gate. With no hands to carry anything, I tied a plastic bag with all my personal belonging, tickets, wallet, cell phone, magazine and water bottle, to the handle of one of my crutches. As I'm about to get on the terminal shuttle, the bag breaks and my stuff goes everywhere. The look on everyone's face was priceless. "Do I help or not?" No one helps but I got a lot of looks of pity and end up missing the shuttle because I'm picking up all my stuff. I get to the gate and there's no open seat; no one offers to get up. I find a seat on the floor and wait for my next leg to Chicago.

I get to Chicago, again no wheelchair again but this time I feel like I'm in luck because I'm only about 4 gates from my next departure to Denver. In between was a bar and I was ready for a drink, but again, no seats. I wait for a seat near the entrance in a pretty obvious place. Apparently cell phones make people oblivious because as soon as a seat opens up a suit on his cell brushes past me and takes the seat. I was about to say something but another seat opened up right after and I took that one and let it go. Again I board and again I get dirty looks when I board with the First Class passengers. This time I didn't get permission to board with them and she points out that I'm not in the right class to be boarding first but lets me on.

I get to Denver and, hooray, there's a wheelchair waiting for me. I'm almost in tears I'm so happy. I have to go all the way down to the end terminal to pick up the little prop plane to Steamboat but I had to stop at the bathroom on the way. The guy stops at the bathroom and when I come out he's gone!! The *&%$er ditched me!! I can't get on the moving walkway in crutches, so I have to hobble my way down again. I get down to the gate and they tell me I won't be able to make it down the stairs to the tarmac so they call another wheelchair for me. Guess who shows back up??? The Ditcher!!! He wheels me around when he gets to the bottom he stands there and waits for a tip. I was so pissed so I gave him a fake novelty $3 bill my Dad gave me with a picture of Bill Clinton on it. This guy was from India so didn't know the difference and pocketed it.

I sit down at the gate for a while until we get word that they don't have a pilot to fly the plane. He's in Phoenix and and will be here in 2 hours. All of the passengers go back up to the concourse but the lady tells me I have to stay because they can't get a wheelchair to bring me back up. I guess that Indian guy was at the bar spending his $3 bill. Everyone leaves and I had to sit down there by myself for 2 hours with no water or access to the bathroom.

We had some testy weather and they told us we might have to go back to Denver but luckily we landed and I was asleep in my bed about an hour later. It hindsight everything else seems pretty easy to get around crutches on."


Monday, May 07, 2007

Confuse "Pet" for "Service Dog?"

On our way home from the Abilities Expo in Edison New Jersey, we ran into a bit of a problem with Continental. To their credit, our first problem ever with them, and it was sorted out without an issue.

However, we figured we might as well just share it, so if you come across this issue, you know what to do.

The request: Our service dog is big, and we like the bulkhead for her and for extra room for us.
The problem: The gate agent thinks "No animals in the bulkhead row."
The truth: "No PETS in the bulkhead row."

His justification: All animals must be considered as luggage, and stored out of the way of passing customers for safety. Therefore they must be stowed under the seat in front of them.
Our justification: Mohawkie is not a pet, and we've done this for five years without question.

How do we protect ourselves usually?
1. We bring a copy of the FAA rules with us to back our rights up.
2. We bring a copy of the Service Animal rules from the ADA with us to back our rights up.
3. When in doubt, we ask for the airport disability representative or a TSA representative to protect our rights.

How did we resolve this issue? Upon proving to both the gate agent AND the green flight attendant that although the FAA states "Pet," this does not apply to a service animal because a)many of them are too big to go under the seat in front, and b)the bulkhead is the official disability seating.
We did have to get a TSA agent over to settle our dispute professionally, but we spent the first 10 minutes nicely stating our point so that the issue didn't get inflated with defensiveness and anger so it could be resolved more quickly. When our case wasn't accepted, we had someone else back it up.

Usually Continental employees are more informed than this, so we were surprised, but not disappointed. We managed to educate 5 staff members, and got into our seat on time as usual.

The bottom line: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

Monday, April 16, 2007

AA: I Can Do That! Release!

The book is finally here, (well, on its way here!) and is for sale online at Access Anything, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Outskirts, and by order through any local book store. Where will our 2007 book tour take us?? Anywhere and Everywhere, USA!

April 26-28, Abilities Expo, Edison NJ
May 4-6, Book signing and celebratory party, Washington DC
May 24, Off the Beaten Path Book Store, Steamboat Springs, CO
June 15-17, Abilities Expo, Anaheim CA
June 18-28, CA Rehab Hospital Tour
June 28, Craig Speaks to the MATPRA 2007 Media Marketplace, VA
June 29-July 2, No Barriers Festival, Tahoe CA
July 13, Craig Hospital 100th Anniversary Event, Book signing, Denver CO
July 21, ICDT Book party, Steamboat Springs CO
August 8-10, Behind the 'Boat Waterski Camp, Steamboat Springs, CO
August 25, ALS Expo, Denver, CO
September 5-10, Abilities Expo, MN
November 15-17, World Congress on Disabilities Expo, Philadelphia PA
December 5, TASH Conference, Seattle WA

Email us to visit your area or rehab center!

Access Anything: I Can Do That! is the second in a series of guidebooks that encourage people with disabilities to travel and adventure to their hearts' content. First in this series was Access Anything: Colorado (Fulcrum Press, 2005), the hub for all information on traveling to Colorado with a disability.

I Can Do That! is more of a reference guide, geared for both travelers and industry professionals, with 45 sports' histories and rules of adaptation, complete disability-travel information on 6 modes of travel, and 6 motivational interviews with famous adaptive athletes and advocates. Travelers with Disabilities will call this their adventure bible, travel industry professionals will call it their office's best resource for booking trips for TWD.

Get your copy now!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Access Anything Makes NBC, MSNBC, and!

For months, Tom Costello of NBC's Nightly News has been telling us the clips they took of us in January would be on the Today Show, sometime between then and April. The longer it took, the more leary we got, until we realized the dates would coincide with our second book, Access Anything: I Can Do That!'s release and it might be perfect timing afterall!

Much to our chagrin, Tom's head producers have decided not to pick up the story, but he did us the favor of sending it through the grapevine anyway, and it made NBC's Weekend Edition on Saturday (3-31) and MSNBC's Weekend Roundup. It also made's videos, so we're thrilled for some exposure, and pray it brings us some hits.

Thanks Tom for this opportunity to be highlighted by your talented team!

Check out the video here!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bush Won't Sign UN Treaty on Accessibility

As of Dec 2006, the United Nations accepted a blanket treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities"). However 20 of the 192 UN nations has to ratify this treaty in order for it to pass, which they'll be able to begin signing and accepting starting this coming March 30, 4 days from now. Once twenty countries sign it, it will go into affect.

A wonderful treaty all-around, this Convention has the opportunity to bring rights to disabled individuals in countries that do not currently have them. So what's wrong with Americans? The George W Bush Administration refuses to sign this international treaty, stating that the existing U.S. ADA Law is sufficient enough.

True, the ADA is one of the world's most advanced law on the subject, surpassed now only by the UK's version, the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act), only because of its enforcing agency that the US has yet to emulate.

But we're fighting for an unheard of INTERNATIONAL acceptance of Disability Rights here, people, and without the US's signature, Bush is, in a way, stating that he doesn't support the rights of people with disabilities in other countries. If he DID sign it, it would mean leverage for the millions of dollars in aid that the US provides to other countries; i.e. if you don't sign, we don't give you money. I understand that the US is not the world's policing agency (or so we keep trying to deny and prove at the same time).

So in contrast, in NOT signing it Bush is also denying Americans rights to the additional Articles that the ADA does not mention, such as the "right to equal access in bank loans, financial affairs, and credit." (Article 14 of the Convention) The Administration is also sending the message that the treaty is not WORTH signing, and in which case, perhaps encouraging other countries to do the same. I'm hoping that his message is ignored by the other major countries who have international influence and, by now, more appeal to nations that are turning on the Bush Administration and their backwards thinking. (Princess Diana must be rolling in her grave.)

In my opinion, this is just one more strike against the Bush Administration, who have spent the last six years screwing this beautiful country up, including bringing in more Americans with Disabilities due to the Iraqi war than we've seen since Vietnam. But that is just my opinion.

But we have a choice. Write your congressman and beg him to override Bush's decision in signing this treaty. This IS still a Democracy, the last I looked. Maybe our next President will sign it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cover of SNS!

March always seems like a big month for us, as the ski season winds down and we begin to build our summer calendar. This year March came with a big welcome, as Sports N Spokes placed Craig on the cover for all to see! Our ten-page article in this monthly mag put out by the PVA has a plethora of photos and an article on our recent ski camp in January. The full article will be up and online on our media page soon, so stay tuned for that!
March is also a big month for us this year because it marks the final deadline for our second book, Access Anything: I Can Do That! (May 2007, Outskirts Publishing, Parker, CO). An inspirational guide to traveling, adventuring, and sporting with a disability, the second book in the AA series dives into the incredible world of adaptive sports and recreation by showcasing 45 different sports that have been adapted for people with disabilities. This one-of-a-kind guide also features essential disability travel information and tips for traveling by airplane, car/rental car, charter bus, cruise ship, and train. As an added bonus, I Can Do That! includes six inspirational interviews with world-class adaptive athletes who have helped to change the face of adaptive sports.

Purchase this book early before it hits the shelves! Order online starting tomorrow, March 20.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mohakie Makes Action Magazine!

In last month's issue of Action Magazine, next to an article on a Breckenridge (mono)Ski Holiday is this picture of the staff writer, Beth Livingston, a recreational therapist from San Diego, and a a dog... OUR DOG! Mohawkie IS the photogenic one... see the link above for the wider view. :) Send good vibes to Mohawkie, now 10, for her to "live forever" as Craig always says. :)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Texas or Bust! The Abilities Expo Takes Off in San Antonio...

Once again, many innovative designs and great ideas make the stage at the San Antonio Abilities Expo, a new city on the Abilities Expo circuit. For a pilot expo, San Antonio's drew a moderate crowd of 2000 over three days, but in time will build momentum to match some of the premier stops on Abilities' list such as New York, which sees about 12,000 visitors over the three days, according to event organizer Veronica Gonello.

Each expo is different by year and by state, according to the participating businesses and non-profits at the expo. This particular expo in San Antonio had a wonderful sports arena inside the expo, and the San Antonio Parks and Rec Adaptive Program had a show-and-tell for nearly all of the fifteen adaptive sports programs they offer in town. Craig got to participate in basketball, (which he said seemed a lot like exercise!) and we watched volleyball, fencing, and soccer to name a few! This hit close to home for us, as our second guidebook on all adapted sports and recreations comes out this April and, and this expo allowed us to see some of these (such as fencing) that we've written about but not yet tried. An angry wheelie with a sword... keep me out of THAT ring!

Some of our pictures and videos are posted on our webpages, click the links below to see those additional highlights of the sports and exhibits we saw in Tx. And stay tuned for more Abilities Expos to come!

April 25-27, Edison NJ (12,000 visitors, the biggest of them all!)
June 15-17, Anaheim, CA
Sept 7-9, Minneapolis, MN

The Abilities network puts on about four expos per year, and so far the only one that's been a reliable location is the NY area. To help host an Abilities Expo near you, contact Carmen Jones 703-920-0225; email:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Adaptive All Mountain Ski Camp Beams Success!

January 12-16, 2007, Steamboat Springs, CO

Another successful winter ski camp has passed thanks in part to our huge sponsors, wonderful volunteers, inspiring participants, and as usual, great weather! The Steamboat All Mountain Ski Camp is part of the Adaptive Adventures All Mountain Series, bringing world-class instruction to adaptive skiers of intermediate and advanced abilities. This is Steamboat's second year supporting this series, and thanks to the wonderfully supportive town we call home, it's well on its way to becoming the top in the series.

Made unique by the amazing backcountry day with co-sponsors Steamboat PowderCats in deep untracked powder, Steamboat's version of the All Mountain camp is already drawing a loyal returning group of participants. We will undoubtedly have to begin a waiting list for the future of this camp because of its growing popularity. Dozens of food, lodging, and activity donations have made this camp a top-knotch event, while keeping the cost of the camp very low for the participants.

The 2007 camp welcomed over 35 skiers with disabilities and a total of over 75 participants, volunteers, coaches, instructors, and organizers. Because of Adaptive Adventure's affiliation with Disabled Sports USA and the Wounded Warrior Project, the camp has a special focus on recently wounded veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and others serving over seas. Of the 35 skiers with disabilities, over half of those are veteran. One main goal for this All Mountain camp is to give our wounded soldiers a new outlook on life, adventure, travel and sports despite ability or disability.

See our February newsletter for more highlights, photos, and testimonials from this year's Vectra Bank Steamboat All Mountain Ski Camp!

A special thanks must go out to all our sponsors for the amazing success of the 2007 camp:

Steamboat Ski Area, Steamboat PowderCats, Adaptive Adventures, Vectra Bank, Shively Construction, Snow Country Construction, AXS Vail Valley, Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Steamboat Resorts, Mountain Resorts, Bear Berry Cottages, Resort Quest Steamboat, Steamboat Grand Resort, JK Wall Designers, Greg Smith Catering, Colorado Bagel CO, Creekside Cafe, Freshies, Egg & I, Mahogany Ridge Brewery, the Rio Grande, Steamboat Smokehouse, Double ZZ, Blimpee Subs, Slopeside Grill, Subway, Colorado Embroidery, Hemp Essentials, Smartwool, Life is Good, Christy Sports, Sports Stalker, and Alpine Taxi.

Without our valued sponsors this event and its success would be impossible to acheive, THANK YOU!