HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO (January 27, 2016) -- Dr. Severance Kelley, a retired psychiatrist living at Wind Crest retirement community, has decided to defeat post-polio syndrome, which has left him nearly paralyzed from the waist down, and take up skiing again.
In February he will strap on his sit-ski and join an international group of fellow paraskiers through the National Sports Center for Disabled's Access Ski program at Winter Park Resort.
Dr. Kelley, who had polio as an infant, enjoyed many years of active living and downhill skiing, but developed muscle weakness and atrophy in both legs. He gave up his beloved winter sport in 1992.
Now 24 years later, he is hearing the whoosh of snow under him once more – though the logistics have changed.
Dr. Kelley's sit-ski allows him to sit with his back supported and legs extended on two skis. Two short hand-held poles with outrigger skis on the ends help him steer. He uses the outrigger skis and leans his body left and right to steer.
"It's an awesome experience, and I think it's just a matter of doing it more and more to get better at it," he says. "It's an entirely different way of skiing."
Dr. Kelley's goal last season was to graduate from using two skis to one ski. "But I didn't quite make it," he says. "I used two skis and had fun doing it."
Having learned the basics and conquered his apprehension of the ski lift, this season promises to be his best.
"Once you learn how to ski rather well, there's this sense of freedom—maybe it's controlled freedom—about shooting down a mountain and doing it in a beautiful setting," he says.
Dr. Kelley participates in various educational and social opportunities on the Wind Crest campus, from the Stevens Ministry to lifelong learning classes taught by fellow residents.