Foresight Ski Guides stronger than ever in '06 by LeeGreenwood


									                                                                                                         Winter/Spring 2006

P.O. BOX 18944 DENVER, CO 80218                303-860-0972 TOLL FREE 866-860-0972 FAX 303-894-9383

                    Foresight Ski Guides
                  stronger than ever in ‘06
    Foresight Ski Guides got off to a
    tremendous start for the 2005-06
    ski season with record snowfalls.
    Record snowfalls in the Rockies made for great
    skiing and phones ringing off the hook with
    calls from volunteers and sponsors generously
    pitching in to keep the organization running.
        Foresight, now in its fifth season at Vail,
    expects to have 75 skier days by the end of
    February 2006 – that’s more than double what
    they had last year at the end of February and
    the most ever in its five-year history.
        “We couldn’t do it without our loyal ski
    guides who often give up their own recre-
    ational skiing to help our VIPs – Visually Im-
    paired Participants – enjoy a day on the moun-
    tain and challenge themselves,” said Mark G.
    Davis, founder and president of Denver-based
    Foresight Ski Guides. “It is always gratifying at
    the end of the ski day to hear our guides tell
    stories of getting as much out of their ski ex-
    periences as they give.”
        Senior guides returning this year include:
    Mark Masto, Bill Murphy, and Kevin Kanan.
        New to the Foresight Ski Guides’ family of
    guides this season are: Alison Myers and Greg
    Brozovich. Foresight also anticipates graduat-
    ing a number of trainees to guides by the end
    of the 2005–06 season.
        “Foresight remains committed to its mis-
    sion of being an extremely effective form of
    rehabilitation therapy in which our VIPs chal-
    lenge themselves to take risks, overcome fears
    and emerge from their ski trip knowing that
    they can live rich, full lives despite their blind-
    ness or visual impairment,” said Davis.
        But Foresight still is faced with having to turn
    away many skiers, as the organization does not
    always have enough trained ski guides avail-
    able to meet skier demand. Skiers interested
    in becoming trained ski guides should visit the
    Foresight website
    or call 303-860-0972.                                                                                    
 Ai Squared software signs                                                                             OUR SPONSORS

  on as Foresight sponsor
Ben Weiss comes from a long line of
optometrists. His grandfather, father and two
uncles were all in the profession but he never
dreamed that someday he would follow their
path of helping visually-impaired people.
    Weiss today is founder and president of
Ai Squared, based in the heart of Vermont’s
green mountains just minutes from the slopes
and a leader in the assistive technology field
for 18 years.
    The company’s flagship product, Zoom-
Text, which Weiss developed, is the world’s         only produces wonderful products to help the
best magnification and reading software for          visually-impaired but supports our program
visually-impaired people and at the heart of        financially with his generous donation.”
computer operations for Mark G. Davis, found-           In 1992 Weiss headed home to his New
er of Foresight Ski Guides.                         England roots, relocating his company to
    Ai Squared is Foresight’s newest corporate      southern Vermont where in 1993 VisAbility,
sponsor – donating funds to help the non-           the first software product for enlarging print-
profit expand its program while priding itself       ed material was released.
on delivering high-quality software products            Over the years, newer technologies were
and technical support.                              released and in 2005, Ai Squared introduced
    “We like to give back to the community that     ZoomText 9.0 featuring human-quality speech
we serve,” said Weiss, a native of Connecticut      and xFont technology or high-definition text
and avid skier and snowboarder. “We give to         enlargement.
similar ski guide programs in Vermont and are           “Most text on a computer screen is 8-
happy to support Foresight in Colorado.”            point type and as it is magnified, it becomes
    Weiss founded Ai Squared in Atlanta in          a giant poorly-developed character,” said
1985 where he operated a one-man shop and           Weiss. “But what sets us apart from the com-
specialized in contract programming. After          petition is xFont, a different way to magnify
being approached by an optometrist who in           text using 20-point characters. And charac-
the days of word processors saw a need for          ters on the screen actually get better with
software to assist the visually-impaired, Weiss     magnification.”
worked feverishly to develop the software that          ZoomText 9.0 also features NeoSpeech, a
emerged in 1988 as ZoomText.                        human-quality speech synthesizer that is bun-
    Today ZoomText is the most popular screen       dled with the text magnification program.
magnifier in the world and is sold in more than          “There are 10 million people in the U.S. who
40 countries.                                       have some form of visual impairment,” said
    “I couldn’t run Foresight Ski Guides with-      Weiss. “And as the population ages and the
out the Ai Squared technology that Ben de-          elderly grow to accept computers as a way of
veloped,” said Davis, who lost his functional       life, our market can only grow. We are pleased
vision due to a rare symptom of multiple            to help where we are needed.”
sclerosis in 1999 and visited Weiss in his Man-         For information on Ai Squared, visit
chester Center, Vt. Operations this fall. “He not

                           w w w.fore sightguide s .org
                   Bill Murphy, Mark Masto mark
                   silver anniversary as ski guides
Little did Bill Murphy and Mark Masto know               “Then, all of a sudden, he let
25 years ago that a longtime friendship would             go of the poles and started
be born when they separately read a story in
Westword, a Denver weekly newspaper.
                                                         shouting, ‘I can ski. I can ski.”
     The story about the Colorado Ski School for
the Blind inspired both Murphy and Masto to
volunteer to become ski guides for blind skiers        ing I was doing,” said Masto.
at Vail.                                                   Having grown up in a family that believed
     The Colorado Ski School for the Blind is          in volunteerism, plus his own work with Big
long gone but Murphy and Masto’s commit-               Brothers and Big Sisters, inspired Masto to
ment to giving Visually Impaired Participants          seek out volunteer opportunities in the sport
(VIPs) the experience of skiing at Vail lives on       he loved after moving to Colorado.
through Denver-based Foresight Ski Guides                  “I was looking for something to give back
where both are senior guides who not only              to the community and wanted to stick with
continue to guide skiers but train new guides.         something that I enjoyed so I could be com-
     Rarely do they themselves ski recreational-       mitted for the long term so I got involved in
ly any more, preferring instead to spend three         being a guide for blind skiers,” said Masto, 49,
or four weekends a month guiding blind skiers          who owns three construction companies. “To
or teaching new volunteers how to be guides.           see the smile on the skiers faces at the bottom
They also assist Foresight founder Mark Davis          of the mountain after they’ve skied a challeng-
with strategy and tasks to keep the non-profit          ing run keeps you coming back.”
running back in Denver.                                    The pair have guided hundreds of skiers                                          
     Murphy said it was his wife, Gayle Drury          over 25 ski seasons and spread the word to            Blind skier guide Bill Murphy helps Fred Siget, a
Murphy, who first spotted the Westword story            encourage others to become volunteer ski              blind skier, load onto Chair 12 at Golden Peak.
years ago that would make all the difference.          guides.
     “I answered the call for volunteers, got train-       “I’ve met some incredible people,” said              Murphy recalls guiding a young mother
ing and soon began going up on weekends                Murphy, getting teary-eyed as he recalled             who confided in him her two fears in life since
and guiding blind skiers,” said Murphy. “Now I         memorable days on the slopes.                         going blind – running into things and possibly
do it at least three weekends a month. It didn’t           There was the youngster from St. Augus-           hurting her baby.
start out that way but once you get up there           tine Fla., leery of skiing who clung to Murphy’s         “When we got to the bottom at the end of
and start doing it, you just keep coming back.”        ski poles fearing to let go while Murphy skied        the day, there was no way to describe the look
     Murphy laughs that he wasn’t always the           backwards to get him down the bunny slope.            and smile on her face. Her mother turned to
expert skier that he is today, recalling his first          “Then, all of a sudden, he let go of the poles    me and said, ‘We haven’t seen her like this for
outing at Eldora ski resort when a college             and started shouting, ‘I can ski. I can ski,’” said   three or four years.’”
roommate convinced him that skiing was easy            Murphy. “He had been a runner on the beach               Then the new mother turned to Murphy
as he tumbled downward.                                and that gave him confidence to get back into          and whispered, “’I’m still afraid of running into
     “My second time back on skis, I broke my          running.”                                             things but I’m no longer afraid of hurting my
leg,” said Murphy of Idaho Springs, Colo., who             Then there was Larry Beer of Detroit who          baby.’ That’s what challenge recreation is all
moved to Colorado in 1964 from the Midwest             lost his sight to glaucoma and tested Murphy’s        about – getting someone to realize that if they
to take a job with Mountain States Telephone &         own skiing abilities.                                 can ski, they can do just about anything in life,”
Telegraph Co. “So that’s how my first experience            “He wanted to ski Blue Ox at Vail, a black        said Murphy.
skiing the 1965-65 ski season went. From there I       run,” said Murphy. “And since I believe part of          Murphy and Masto on separate days guid-
just plodded along, had fun and would ski with         my job is to give him the kind of day that he         ed 85-year-old Fred Siget down the slopes of
people who were better than me. That’s how I           wanted – to give him his full experience on           Vail. “Fast Freddie” as he’s been come to be
learned to ski; I never did take lessons.”             the mountain, I had to get up to his level. Ev-       known lost his sight while a firefighter in Lan-
     Masto moved to Colorado in 1979 from              erything just came together that day for both         caster, Pa.
upstate New York where he began skiing at              of us and we blistered that mountain 10 times            “Freddie turned to me and said, ‘I’m fortu-
age 5 and became a ski instructor at the Royal         and I learned that sometimes the VIP ends up          nate that I’m blind because I can see more,’”
Mountain Ski Area near his hometown of Am-             challenging you, educating you.”                      said Murphy. “It’s those kinds of pearls that you
sterdam, N.Y.                                              Both Murphy and Masto say they virtually          take away from this experience. If you’re going
     “All the while I was teaching I was always        step into the boots of each person they guide         to spend time skiing with people, it’s those
looking over the fence at the programs going           to build a trust that the VIP will not only trust     kinds of people you want to be around. Skiing
on for disabled skiers and thought it looked a         him but that he will trust that the VIP will listen   speaks to them personally and in a sense, it
little more interesting than the kind of teach-        to him and follow his commands.                       does to you, too.”
                                                             VIP CORNER

         Skier doesn’t need to see the slopes
By J.K. Perry                                     Industries, a producer of chemicals and car-                The instructor told Siget to get into the
VAIL DAILY NEWS                                   bon compounds for various industries, where             snowplow position, which also troubled
                                                  he stayed for 25 years.                                 him. In Siget’s seeing days, v-shaped snow-
VAIL MOUNTAIN – Fred Siget, 85, cruised                                                                   plows weren’t on the roads. He only knew the
                                                       “Some of the programs I wrote there are
down Gopher Hill on skis, pausing at the lift                                                             straight-blade plows. Frustrated, Siget asked
                                                  still running maintenance free,” Siget said.
maze to reflect on the 48 years of his life he’s                                                           the instructor to position his legs in the snow-
                                                       In 1968, a coworker asked Siget to ski at
been blind.                                                                                               plow.
                                                  Seven Springs, a small ski resort in an hour
   “You take a person for who they are, not                                                                   “That’s not a snowplow, that’s a wedge,”
                                                  southeast of Pittsburgh. “He knew this instruc-
what they look like,” Siget said.                                                                         Siget said to him.
   Siget is considered the oldest blind skier     tor who liked to teach people with handicaps,”
                                                  Siget said.                                                 By the time he skied to the bottom, he said
by Foresight Ski Guides, a non-profit group of                                                             he had a smile on his face and returned three
that brings the blind down the slopes of Vail          At Seven Springs, Siget got the feel of the
                                                  skiing equipment, but the size-8 boots on his           weeks later for his first ride on a chairlift.
and Beaver Creek mountains.                                                                                   On the slopes of Vail, Siget methodically
   Siget, who is from Pennsylvania, headed        size-9 feet troubled him. “I said ‘Wow. This is a
                                                  helluva sport,’ “ he recalled. “I don’t mind the        cruised down Gopher Hill, Murphy behind
west to Vail this December. Today he’s skiing                                                             him calling out directions. Siget senses the hill
with Bill Murphy, who’s been a ski guide for 25   sport, but these boots are awful.”
                                                       The instructor taught Siget how to get up          through his feet, checking his speed or mov-
years. The two use simple commands to steer                                                               ing faster at the appropriate time.
around obstacles. A turn is “left three,” for     from a fall, and how to make turns, but at the
                                                                                                              Siget might not be the fastest skier, but he
three o’clock or “right one,” for one o’clock.    top of the tow rope Siget had misgivings. “I
                                                                                                          has gotten around Vail for more than 30 years,
   Siget’s retinas were detached when he was      was scared and sat in the snow - I couldn’t go
                                                                                                          he said.
blasted in the eyes by a firehouse while work-     down,” Siget said.
                                                                                                              “I was the second blind person on Vail the
ing as volunteer firefighter in Lancaster, Pa. in        Siget was told the instructor’s father – miss-
                                                                                                          way everybody’s talking,” Siget said.
the late 50s.                                     ing one leg below the knee – skied down the
   He took up computer programming in the         hill. “I thought, ‘If that guy can do it, I can do it   Reprinted with permission from the Vail Daily News,
60, and eventually went to work for Koppers       too,’ “ he said.                                        January 16, 2006.

    P.O. Box 18944 Denver, CO 80218

To top