Mummy always says that with love and commitment, anything is possible. She also says that luck comes in handy. Mummy is a teacher at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Although she can't walk or use her hands and arms very well, she drives and lives alone with me and my canine brother, Tuva. Mummy says that she's so lucky: she lives where she wants, does what she wants. She's had lots of help and support along the way. But many other people with disabilities haven't had those chances to challenge themselves and discover their potential. We wanted a way to give back and help make that possible.
In fall 2012, Mummy learned of an incredible recreational facility in our area: the Nordic Heritage Center. It's a year-round venue for Nordic skiing, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching"”almost anything that you could imagine that involves forests, trails, meadows, incredible vistas of mountains. Although the Nordic Heritage Center has been the location for international biathlon events, its real purpose is to provide healthy outdoor recreational opportunities and challenges to all people. But Mummy became aware that there was one group who was not being served: those with physical disabilities. We knew that we had to do something about that.
We learned of a program called Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. It is the largest organization of its kind in the country, providing lessons in various outdoor sports to people with physical disabilities ages four and up.
Here is an amazing and touching video about Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation.
The problem was that it only covered central and southern Maine. We knew that we had to try to change that. There are hundreds of people in our area with disabilities whom this could benefit. When you also factor in their friends, families, and supporters"”well, this touches everyone. A partnership between the two organizations would be a marriage made in heaven. But then disaster struck.
By late October 2012, Mummy was very ill. She brushed it aside, until one night the pain was too great. She kept fainting and I kept reviving her. Finally, she was conscious enough to call for help. A major artery had burst. She nearly bled to death. I had my first plane ride on the life flight to Bangor. She survived the flight but could not talk or move for a time. Then she had a long rehabilitation. Many wondered if she would ever go back to work.
But Mummy had her dreams, including that of working with Nordic Heritage. By January 2013, she was back at work. The projects helped her get stronger. She and her students began to work with Nordic Heritage and Maine Adaptive to propose a partnership. Everyone was excited and willing. Bit by bit, we've worked out the details. Now we're preparing to launch next winter.
We're building awareness, reaching out to people to be a part of this incredible opportunity. We need volunteers, goodwill"”and some funds for adaptive equipment and startup costs. It will take about $10,000 to get us successfully through our first season. Because it takes time to build the special equipment, we need the funds by mid summer.
NOW HERE'S THE REALLY NEAT PART!
Mummy and I wanted to do something special to help. That's where our Excellent Adventure comes in. On June 8, Mummy and I are going whitewater rafting. At first glance, we don't seem likely candidates. But again, as Mummy says, with love and commitment, anything is possible. Because we're so lucky, we can make this happen. But we need your help to make additional recreational challenges possible for others with disabilities. Please pledge your support so that we can make the Nordic Heritage Center truly inclusive and welcoming for all. All your pledges will go directly and fully to make this possible for others, buying much needed adaptive equipment and training volunteers. But it's truly not about sport but about what we find within. Instead of saying why, let's say why not. Thank you for your help.
We all can make a difference. We all can be that difference. Let us start today.