Matt started learning to sit-ski with Achieve Tahoe this past winter. At the beginning of the season, he started using his own rig, trying to teach himself at Boreal with support from friends and local businesses (Olympic Valley Ski & Bike, Armada, KBGoodz, Barbor Metal Works, Jay Rawe, and Clean-Rite Carpet Cleaning.)

“Learning to sit ski alone seemed nearly impossible. I was slamming every 5 seconds at Boreal when I first started this season. Every time I fell down it hurt insanely bad with my nerves being over sensitive because of my condition. I can’t really take falls that well and it is really hard for me to get up because my strength is hampered by my pain.”

After a difficult start, Matt heard about Achieve Tahoe through his good friend Scott, the manager at Olympic Valley Bike and Ski, and booked his first mono-ski lesson.

“Being able to have the assistance of Achieve Tahoe to learn to sit ski turned a mountain into a mole hill. Their instructors were super kind-hearted, making me feel no pressure. They knew how to put me in the right situation at the right time to grow my sit skiing skills as fast as possible with as little ramifications to my health as possible. Without the help of Achieve Tahoe I doubt I would have even made it down a ski run once without falling this winter. With Achieve Tahoe’s help I went from falling down every 5 seconds on the bunny run at Boreal to riding down a double black diamond at Palisades at the end of the season and having a possible sponsor lined up for next year. I feel so blessed!!!”

For Matt, the joy of skiing was two-fold – re-finding the joy of outdoor recreation after his snowboard accident four years ago AND being able to get outside with his friends again.

“My favorite part was starting to go fast. I am used to moving slower than everyone else walking with a cane. Now my friends that ski have to bend over to keep up with me. It brought tears of joy to my eyes being able to ride down a snowy mountain again…”

This summer, Matt has continued recreating with Achieve Tahoe as part of our Cruise Out with the Tahoe Yacht Club and with our Sailing Program*.

“Sailing on lake Tahoe with Tahoe Achieve was great, even though we had no wind. It was still a joy to be on a boat on such a beautiful lake. My favorite part was being on the lake with my Mom who I don’t get much time with because she lives further away than I could comfortably drive. She is also disabled and it was a great experience for her which warmed my heart greatly. She, just like me has to spend a lot of time disconnected from the world in bed resting, so it was great Achieve Tahoe allowed me to include her, so she could get out and have some fun too.”

Going forward, Matt plans to keep building his skills with Achieve Tahoe as he pursues his goals, both skiing and sailing.

“I hope to compete professionally in free ski sit-skiing. So to me, this is the beginning of a huge dream I never knew was even possible. I really enjoy participating in Achieve Tahoe activities and believe the joy it gives me really helps give me the strength to face the challenges of my disability. They give me the support I need to have a lot of fun and it allows me to enjoy the abilities I still have. Some of which I never realized I still had.”

Matt encourages anyone with a disability to participate with Achieve Tahoe and try adaptive recreation program.

“I believe being disabled we should still find a way to do what we love and experience the great joys that life can still bring. Achieve Tahoe supports this mission. They give me the support to follow the dreams I can still pursue, which gives me a lot of joy. Which I believe is essential for us all to have to survive.”

Thank you Matt for sharing your story with the Achieve Tahoe community, and we look forward to supporting your achievements as you keep going!

*Our sailing program is made possible by a generous grant by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District.