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Utah nonprofit makes outdoor sports affordable and accessible

Posted at 6:24 AM, Feb 06, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah nonprofit is working to make outdoor recreation in the Beehive State more accessible and affordable to people of all abilities.

Utah’s scenic beauty and winter resorts are enjoyed by millions of people around the world but hiking, biking and skiing can be difficult for those with compromised or limited physical abilities.

Wasatch Adaptive Sports, based out of the Snowbird resort, uses donations and partnerships to make the world of outdoor exploration available to everyone.

Courtney Custer has been just one person who has benefitted from the work of the nonprofit after she became a paraplegic nearly three years ago.

Custer was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Texas at the time of an accident that changed her life.

"We ended up doing an activity we probably shouldn’t have and went out to do service," she explained. "My companion crashed the four-wheeler on me and as soon as I woke up, I immediately knew I was paralyzed.”

Custer explained she hasn't let her diagnosis hold her back and the nonprofit has helped her regain an active lifestyle.

“I was like; ‘okay, I’m not going to be able to walk again, then watch me rip down this mountain bike trail and watch me like, ski down the mountain, you know better than other people with the use of their legs,'” she explained.

It can be difficult to relearn how to bike and ski and adaptive gear is expensive, which is where contributions from local companies come in.

Over the past two years, Salt Lake-based "Kuhl" clothing has donated $100,000 to Wasatch Adaptive Sports.

“We want to support all that they’re doing for their participants up here to regain and feel that feeling of independence and freedom and that sort of sense of joy they get from being out in the mountains," explained Sarah Scott with Kuhl clothing. "Or just kind of out recreating and having fun.”

Custer said adaptive skiing is the most physically challenging thing she's ever taken on and she's extremely grateful for the gear and volunteers who help her.

“And as I got more into it, I found community," she explained. "You know, people in similar situations, and that helped me so much.”