Adaptive Skiing – Kalim’s and Sandra’s Stories

Good morning. How’d you sleep, babies? I was three weeks into college. I was studying
for a biology exam, I dropped my book and I went to go pick it up and I couldn’t stand
up. Just like that. Are we gonna go swimming today? Yeah. They did an X-ray that night and then found
a tumor. It was benign, but it was about the size of a hockey puck and they said it ate
away my vertebrae and then it put pressure on my spinal cord. There you go. During rehab
I started to get some movement back. I thought maybe I would walk again. You know when you’re
a newbie that’s all you think about. Kalim:
I was trapped in a hydraulic lift and that machine malfunctioned and I was crushed. Boom,
the first backbone burst and I actually heard it you, know? Dr. Ramin Bagheri:
As the vertebra ruptured, because of the force, it sent bone fragments back into the spinal
canal severing the spinal cord. Kalim:
The mind game of being in a wheelchair is a big thing, not… now we’re not talking
about any of the physical sort of limitations, but just knowing that you can’t move can
be debilitating. Sandra:
On my right side I can move a little bit and I can lift my foot and my toes and so this
is reality. Andrea Muncada, OT:
Wholeheartedly I care about your goals. Let’s get you independent. Let’s get you stronger.
We’re on a mission. Sandra:
They said, well what do you want to do and I said, well I want to ski again, I want to
ride my bike. I want to do the things I always did and they’re like, well you’ll be able
and I’m like… how? No, I won’t. How am I gonna do that?
You want to race? I don’t want to be an observer in my kids’
life. I want to be with them and doing these activities with them. Kalim:
And here’s how I stand up. Landa, Kalim’s wife:
He said I have a life to lead, I’m gonna get better. This isn’t gonna hold me back. Dr. Bagheri:
The injury didn’t change Kalim. He’s the same person. He’s still a positive, you
know, adventurous person who has a great attitude. Kalim:
I’ve been preparing for this day for a year. Coming to this mountain has been a really
important journey for me. Debbie Moore:
As recreation therapists we help our patients transition from the clinical setting to the
community setting like the adaptive ski program at Bear Mountain. Tabitha:
We push people to places where they didn’t know that they could go when the odds were
against them. Kalim:
As soon as I started skiing my legs finally started jumping and they hadn’t done anything
since I’ve been out of rehab. I’m starting to get glimmers of movement. I think being
athletic is all part of it. You’ve got to be athletic to keep your body healing. Sandra:
I got to get some speed. A wheelchair can’t get to so many places,
so it’s very liberating to be skiing with everybody. Kalim:
I’m always fighting gravity, but when I get to go down the hill it’s like gravity
works for me. Tabitha:
Kalim, even though he didn’t have neurological recovery, he had recovery of life. Kalim:
The fast moving earth beneath me. It was just the way to reconnect to that level of speed. Debbie:
Now they think, well I can do this, what else can I do? Sandra:
I grew up, as a family we always skied, so that was really important that I… I wanted
to still be able to do that with my family. So I’m super happy that we’re gonna have
that. And there he is. Kalim:
They told me I’d never walk again, but they didn’t say I wouldn’t ski. Sandra:
That’s my little guy.

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