Pastor Skis with a Different Outlook

Post a Comment » Written on February 13th, 2009     
Filed under: News
DEADWOOD, SD (February 13, 2009) – Jeff Schirle was surprised by what he discovered when he first helped with Ski for Light. The organization teaches those who are visually- or mobility-impaired to ski by pairing them with able-bodied skiers.

The Black Hills Ski for Light organization celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in Deadwood last month, where participants skied Terry Peak in the Black Hills.

“You go there thinking, ‘I’m an able-bodied skier, and I can really help these people,’” says Schirle, pastor of Hope Covenant Church in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Instead, he ended up being immersed in a whole new culture.

During the week, most of the people he saw on the streets of Deadwood had some impairment. “You’re the odd man out if you don’t,” Schirle says.

Schirle had volunteered with the organization in 2007. This year, he brought along Scott Propp, the church chair, who also provided assistance. (Schirle, right, with mobility-impaired skier and Propp)

As the skiers’ ability and skill improved throughout the week, the guides eased up on their control while keeping the participants on a tether for safety. By the end of the week, some skiers were able to ski totally independently off-tether.

“The relationships developed are not only on the hill,” Schirle says. “In this relaxed atmosphere, partners really get to know each other, share common interests and experiences, as well as form genuine friendships.” (Propp pictured with visually- and mobility-impaired skiers.)

Miss Wheelchair America, Michelle Colvard, attended the event and addressed the group. In a wheelchair since the sixth grade, the Houston, Texas, resident has a master’s degree from the University of Texas. Now a consultant, she stays physically active with skiing, kayaking, basketball, and racing a MINI Cooper in autocross competitions.

The week ended with a banquet and awards ceremony during which trophies were awarded in various categories of the skiing competition. Word “leaked out” that Schirle was a pastor, so he was asked to give the invocation and blessing.

Schirle says he and Propp already are looking forward to next year.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog