AUSTIN, Texas - Fourteen-year-old Mary Rose Bushland, a visually-impaired athlete from The Hills, Texas, will be taking part in this weekend’s Anthem Winter Sports Fest in Breckenridge, Colo, as will her vocal teacher, Devin Gutierrez.
Blind skiers and snowboarders from across the U.S. will navigate the slopes of Breckenridge with guides February 27-29. This year's group of 14 participants range in age from six to 53 and represent nine different states. The youngest skiers are a brother and sister from Colorado, eight-year-old Logan and six-year-old Zoe Galloway. The oldest is Deborah Groeber, 53, from Pennsylvania.
Now in its 11th year, this annual event is hosted by the United States Association of Blind Athletes, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and coordinated by the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center
“They had a hula hoop around me to keep me safe. Last time I was a little afraid of falling and hurting myself. But my guide's really helped me and I want them to help me,” Bushland said. “It tasted like water, it smelled kinda like rain, it felt like a moving ground, a roller coaster.”
This year her friend Devin will be going to the annual winter festival with her.
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“I've never been in the snow before and I was like I'm gonna see if I can do this maybe have a snowball fight or two because I've always wanted to do that,” Gutierrez said.
Improvisation and adaptation are skills learned in music so they're taking what they've learned in class to the slopes.
“Maybe I'll write a song about falling down on the slopes, you never know,” Gutierrez said.
Although they're not in this alone, they want one thing made clear.
"Want people to go, oh he's blind that's cool - not 'oh my God he's blind how is he doing this?' how is he living a normal life?' By adapting," Gutierrez said.
“Nothing was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I haven't found the scariest thing but I’ll let you know if I find any,” Bushland said.
The group is headed to Breckinridge early Wednesday morning and will come back after this weekend.