PARK CITY, Utah -- Teenagers hitting the slopes at Park City Mountain Resort may not sound all that unusual, but for this group of teens the activity represents an important victory.
A group of teenage amputees from 10 different states, all patients from Shriners Hospitals for Children, were at Park City recently to shred the slopes.
Each of the 25 is an amputee or someone who deals with a limb deficiency.
“A lot of the amputees I was working with as a physical therapist were having issues with getting out in the community, being active, and dealing with common teenage issues," said Camp Director Matt Lowell.
Then came the idea for a special ski and snowboard camp, to help teens stay active and help them cope.
“We ski and snowboard during the day, but then the kids gather up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then we also run some therapeutic support groups in the evenings," Lowell said. "The kids actually told me this year that they think that is the most important part and their favorite part of coming to camp.”
Oakley Doyle, 16, was among those who attended.
“It is honestly the best experience I’ve ever had,” she said. “I look forward to camp all year."
Doyle has overcome some unique challenges before arriving on the slopes.
"I was born with PFFD and fibular hemimelia,” she said. “I was missing a lot of the bones in my feet, and the ones that I did have were fused together, so it was either amputation or wheelchair and obviously we went with the amputation."
This is her fourth year at camp, and she said seeing others face similar challenges inspired her to share her own struggles.
"This camp has just made me so much more able to talk about it, it's made me realize that it's actually a blessing that I am an amputee,” she said.
The lessons learned on the slopes will last a lifetime.
“It just shows me that I can do a lot more than I understand that I can, and every single time I push myself more and more, and I realize that I am able to do what anyone else can do, I just have to do it in my own way…I would not be who I am today without it," Doyle said.
Instructors said the camp wouldn't be possible without support from Shriners Hospitals for Children and the National Ability Center, which helped donate some of the special ski and snowboard equipment for the teens.