I caught up with a friend last week while out skiing the slush. He was flying solo with both kids, a toddler and a seven year old, nailing a feat impressive for any dad.
What made it even more heroic was the fact that his oldest child is autistic.
My friend was drenched in sweat, skiing with his 85-pound son between his legs, and verbally herding his toddler daughter down "Sleeper" and "Waterfall." Just for reference, an 85-pound kid is roughly the size of a small Chris Denny or a big Howard Dean.
His son was beaming. It was his fourth time skiing, having been introduced to the activity earlier in the season by Vermont Adaptive Sports. But it was his first time skiing with his dad.
The year I was born, Autism Spectrum Disorders affected about one out of every 2000 births. Today, it's one in 150.
Do the quick math. In the United States, that's approximately 2 million people. Add to that the 6 million adults estimated to have developmental disabilities, and you've got quite a crowd.
To have the opportunity to meet and begin to work closer with groups who make this community the center of their daily life has been quite satisfying. But to see my friend and his son skiing together simply. Blew. Me. Away.
His dedication and resolve outclassed any of my own outdoor accomplishments by a mile. And a few days later, while I was still mentally calculating the massive effort it must take ...he blew me away again.
"That was the greatest day skiing in life. No question."