Mark Whitney, a 79-year-old resident at Life Care Center of Evergreen, Colorado, took to the slopes at the local Breckenridge Ski Resort on March 18, 2015.
Whitney, who was born and raised in Athol, Massachusetts, spent much of his life skiing. A longtime member of the Professional Ski Instructors Association, Whitney was employed as a ski instructor for more than 40 years, both in Minnesota and at Keystone Resort in Colorado.
After a serious ski accident landed him in the hospital, Whitney had to give up skiing for several years. With the help of dedicated instructors from Breckenridge’s Outdoor Education Center, he recently found his ski legs once again.
Accompanied by his wife, Ruth West, and Life Care Center of Evergreen’s executive director, Keith Mullett, Whitney spent a wonderful, sunny afternoon gliding down the mountain.
“Mark really enjoyed the skiing,” said Mullett. “He had a smile on his face all day long.”
Whitney was able to safely ski using a walker-type device with skis attached on the bottom. The instructor had tethers attached to the device to control direction and speed as needed.
“It was quite amazing to see him on the snow,” West said. “It was also great to watch others with different disabilities get down the hill.”
Whitney and his wife have been together for more than 30 years. They met at a trade show in California and discovered that they both loved outdoor activities.
West started her own skiwear company based in Evergreen and went on to design apparel for companies such as Ocean Pacific, Harley Davidson and the first NFL women’s line.
Whitney’s love for the outdoors goes beyond his passion to ski. Over the years, he’s enjoyed cycling, designing helmets for bicycles and racing sailboats.
“BOEC’s program is wonderful,” said West. “They work with a lot of injured veterans, and it seems that whatever a person’s disability may be, they find a way to overcome it to help them ski.”
Whitney and West enjoyed another ski trip to Breckenridge on April 9, 2015, which was the last trip of the season. They look forward to frequenting the slopes again next season.