OCALA-Like so many boys, ten-year-old Spencer has a love of two things: girls and sports. He is a very social and charming young man with many friends, most of them girls. And when he’s not entertaining his “girl” friends, he is watching basketball and golf. But sadly, he will never get to participate in the games he watches so enthusiastically on television. Spencer suffers with a severe form of cerebral palsy that has left him wheelchair bound and unable to communicate well with others. However, his mother Patricia says that he understands everything and has developed a wonderful sense of humor. “His wit is almost mischievous, where he likes to instigate or stir up trouble,” she said. “And because he is so happy and has fun, I feel it keeps his spirits up.”
So when Evergreen Elementary School contacted Kids Wish Network about Spencer, a Wish Coordinator jumped into action to make his only dream of seeing and playing in the snow a reality. Soon Spencer and his family were on a plane headed to Winter Park, CO for the skiing adventure of a lifetime. Upon arrival they checked into the luxurious Zephyr Mountain Lodge where an employee was anxiously waiting with hats for the family and with news that she had arranged for the family to take a sleigh ride and to eat at other local establishments. But before the fun began, it was off for a good night’s sleep. “The condo was beautiful,” said Patricia. “We were so tired after each day, and it was a wonderful place to relax in; we were all so mellow the whole time we were there.”
The next day, Spencer had a ski instructor waiting for him at the National Sports Center for the Disabled, where he would actually get to experience skiing down a mountain in a bi-ski, a rigid seat attached to two skis. The adaptive ski gave him the opportunity to race down a hill and enjoy the snow like he has always dreamed of doing. “He just didn’t want to stop; he wanted no pauses in the action,” said Patricia.
The following afternoon, Spencer and his family went to meet with some dogs. Professional mushers greeted them with a team of huskies ready to lead them by sleds over the powdery Colorado mountainside. “They were so nice and so good to us, making sure we were all warm on the trip,” Patricia said. The canine powered sleds reached speeds of up to 20 mph during the ten-mile journey and took them on a 1-hour tour of the winter wonderland. “Animals seem drawn to Spencer and one of the dogs, Merlin, just loved him, licking his face and staying near him all the time; Spencer was thrilled by that,” Patricia said.
Then Spencer had one more day of showing his skills at skiing down the slopes. “He felt more comfortable this time and really enjoyed it even more,” Patricia said. And after thawing out, it was time for the family to grab their parkas and go dashing through the snow on their special sleigh ride. “He really loved it because we all got to sit together,” Patricia said. “And he absolutely loved the horses.” Spencer’s last day in the winter wonderland was spent sightseeing around the Denver and Boulder areas.
“We just had a wonderful time and I took so many pictures to remember it by,” Patricia said. “We were so thankful to be there and gratified by the NSCD; the people were so capable and made it feel like Spencer skiing was the most natural thing.” She said that of all the things she loved on the trip, her favorite memory was seeing Spencer ski down the mountains. “I loved knowing that we could trust the people with him to take care of him. Just seeing the wind blowing in his face was the best thing of all.”
Kids Wish Network would like to graciously thank all of the wonderful sponsors that made Spencer’s dream come true: The Zephyr Mountain Lodge, the National Sports Center for the Disabled, Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park, Dashing Thru the Snow Sleigh Rides, Advantage Rent A Car, Pizza Hut, Mika from the Zephyr Mountain Lodge, and all of the other caring businesses and sponsors that made Spencer’s trip that much more memorable.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization whose mission is to grant wishes to children who have life-threatening illnesses. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of their wish granting services, please call (813) 891-9374 or toll free at (888) 918-9004. You can also visit its web site at www.kidswishnetwork.org.