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Adaptive skiing program helps youth reach Whiteface's peak

WILMINGTON The Whiteface adaptive snow sports school, working with six year old Stephen Murray of Whippany, N.J., recently saw the youngster advance to the summit of Whiteface on just his third and fourth days of skiing. Stephen suffers from autism, but with the help of instructors Donna Santiago and Alec Friedmann, was able to ski the Follies trail. Stephen was joined at Whiteface by mother Maureen, father Joseph and sister, Kathleen. Whiteface Adaptive Snow Sports, founded in 1996, is for people of all ages with disabilities who want to learn how to ski and snowboard.Lessons range from first-timer to the advanced skier/snowboarder. The program is staffed by ski school instructors who have PSIA certification in all four disciplines of adaptive skiing, as well as ski school instructors who are training for certification. Adaptive lessons include all appropriate equipment from skis, to outriggers, bi-skis and mono-skis. Murray rapidly learned to parallel ski and on Monday, March 19, he rode Chair 6 to the top of Whiteface with his family and instructor and skied the highest vertical in the Eastern USA. Don Dew Sr. is the founder and director of the program. Whiteface Mountain Ski School Director, Ed Kriel, pioneered teaching beginner skiing on Salomon Snowblades in a program named Parallel from the Start more than ten years ago. Stephen Murray, with instructor Donna Santiago, was joined at Whiteface by mother Maureen, father Joseph and sister Kathleen as he skied up Whiteface with help through the Whiteface Adaptive Snow Sports Program. Murray suffers from autism. ORDA Photo/Alec Friedmann

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