L.L.Bean

OUTDOOR HEROES

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Sylvie Fadrhonc - Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, Telluride, CO

A life-changing injury turns an outdoor guide into an advocate for bringing the disabled outdoors

There's more than one way to climb a mountain or ski down a slope. Just ask Sylvie Fadrhonc. Months after beginning her outdoor career in Colorado as a guide and field instructor, Sylvie was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. Not willing to give up her passion for the outdoors, she re-learned how to ski, bike and rock climb using adaptive equipment. Her realization that she could still actively participate in the outdoors allowed her to pursue her dreams and led her to share this opportunity with others. She brought this enthusiasm to bear in Telluride, CO, where she works with the disabled community at the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP).

The first thing you notice when looking at recent photos of Sylvie hiking, skiing and camping, is her big smile. Her positive attitude beams from every image. It's obvious that she does not focus on obstacles. Even while still in the hospital, she looked for a way to ski that season. "My brother came to see me and told me not to worry, I'd still be able to ski," she says. "At the time I thought, great but I have to figure out how to sit up first." Less than four months later, Sylvie took her first adaptive ski lesson. "The doctors didn't advise me to do it, but I was missing one of the best snow years in history so I had to get out there," she says.

Less than a year after her accident, Sylvie contacted the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program (TASP), who welcomed her on staff as a volunteer coordinator. Over the course of her time with TASP, Sylvie has touched the lives of hundreds in the Telluride community and devoted herself to promoting the outdoors for the disabled.

She helped initiate the first ever TASP Alaska Adventure for four adaptive athletes in conjunction with Mountain Trip Guides. Over the course of 10 days, Sylvie and her fellow participants went mountaineering, ski touring and salmon fishing across Alaska. This "trip of a lifetime" has become an annual event and each year the trip coordinators get requests to increase the challenges this year the athletes will summit Mount Dickey in the Great Gorge of the Ruth Glacier.

Sylvie also helped create a program to spread disability awareness among fifth and sixth grade students in the community in order to help promote acceptance in area schools. "Many of these kids come out and volunteer with disabled kids their own age once the program is finished. It's powerful to see that happen," says Sylvie.

Sylvie's enthusiasm and positive energy make her a strong role model. "When Sylvie is around disabled kids and they see this great skier, they think, I can be like that too," says Courtney Stuecheli, Executive Director of TASP. "She shows them what's possible."

For more information about the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program, please visit tellurideadaptivesports.org..