WHITEFISH — DREAM Adaptive Recreation has been creating opportunities in northwest Montana for athletes of all ages and abilities since the 1980s.
The Whitefish-based organization was founded by a group of locals who noticed that the Flathead Valley was very focused on outdoor recreation, but it wasn’t very accessible.
“DREAM's mission is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing year-round outdoor adaptive recreation. So, we want to empower folks through the great outdoors,” said executive director Julie Tickle.
Jason Stoffer began taking ski lessons with DREAM last week.
“So after a spinal cord injury obviously, as you can imagine, like your options for ways to stay active and things like they...they're a smaller list than like what they were when you're able-bodied. You're looking for stuff during the winter that keeps you active and keeps you moving,” said Stoffer.
DREAM offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic skiing in the winter. During the summer, they offer activities like wakeboarding, kayaking, and mountain biking. Skiing is DREAM's longest-running program.
“But then the fact that these folks at DREAM had the vision to, to set up a place where they could cater to and offer these opportunities to folks with disabilities. I mean, extremely fortunate, for sure,” said Stoffer.
Over 100 volunteers attend snow clinics in December to learn the adaptive equipment and how to teach skiing. But, DREAM operates with a very small staff and relies on volunteers.
“DREAM has existed for this long because of awesome community support,” said Tickle.
Stoffer never skied before his injury but decided to take lessons and check an item off his bucket list.
“Like, it's, it's obviously great, you know, any, any new thing that you're able to do any new experience that you're able to have? Do it? Like, that's kind of what I've been living by for the last four and a half years since my accident,” said Stoffer.
DREAM will be holding its annual Snowball fundraiser on March 4, and then and the third annual shred-a-thon takes place on March 26. Visit dreamadaptive.org for additional information.