Monday, April 13, 2009

Thank You Craigleith

Craigleith Liftline

Several years ago, I met an inspiring Craigleith member named Doreen. While standing in a liftline we engaged in typical lift line chit chat. Weather, snow conditions, and then the obligatory “I remember when”. Then the conversation changed and Doreen told me of her plans to ski as often as possible with her husband Rene. She looked up the hill, smiled and squinted into the sun. With a tone of sympathy or maybe it was appreciation she said, “I can’t imagine what people do in the winter time if they don’t ski. The winters must seem so long.”

Over the next few years I learned that Doreen was an accomplished ski racer and also a member of a dragon boat team called “Dragons Abreast”. It is a team of survivors, who travel the world paddling, racing and inspiring people to live life to its fullest.

Our first encounter stands out in my mind because it made me think about our own daughter Samantha. Could Samantha ever be like Doreen? At that very moment, Samantha was not building a memory worthy of saying “I remember when”. Sammy was in a daycare, with her wheelchair. She was not skiing and her winter probably felt like an eternity.

Samantha was on a waiting list for Track 3. No matter how much we try, there is always a waiting list of children with disabilities like Samantha hoping for a chance to gather their own moments of reflection. Thanks to Track 3, hope became reality for Samantha. It’s been over ten years as Craigleith members and seven years sit-skiing together. We spend our winter weekends as a family, surrounded by Craigleith friends. Little did I know how Doreen’s words would ring true and our winters would fly by so fast. This past season did not seem long enough. I know that all of the Track 3 kids and their families feel the same.

Since joining Track 3, I have been inspired by all kinds of supporters. They are selfless givers who understand what Track 3 can do to achieve an incredible difference in the life of a child and the dynamics of an entire family. Supporters are not limited to the heroes who ride the buses and volunteer as instructors. They include people who donate time to boards and committees, those who run events and attend events, people who donate or raise the necessary funds, those who spread the word and encourage others to be supporters too.

This past season has been quite extraordinary. More kids participated in Track 3 than ever before. More kids gathered their own personal memories so they could someday say “I remember when.” This was made possible because Craigleith supporters like Jutta Witt and Hugh Fallon turned the hugely successful Switchback Snowshoe Challenge into a Track 3 event. The Men’s Day committee dedicated the afternoon to Track 3. The Club Championship committee dedicated their race broadcast to acquiring a new sit-ski. And who could forget when over 800 members showed up on the Family Day weekend for Craigleith Idol. Craigleith families, staff, committees and board members stood up to make a huge difference. You took photos, created videos, played music, printed materials, donated, bought and sold tickets, purchased equipment and helped maintain facilities. The only disappointment was that it went by too quickly. If we could only have more days on the hills with the kids and more time to say thank you to everyone involved.

Craigleith is the cornerstone of Track 3 and is filled with inspiring members like Doreen. It’s easy to be a proud Craigleith member. Thanks for everything you do!

Hopefully we’ll see you at our annual general meeting, Hockley Valley golf classic or our autumn Winterlude at the Steam Whistle Brewery. All events are listed at

Steve Jones
Ontario Track-3 Ski Association

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