Years with Recreation Unlimited: 24 years
Certification: Level II Instructor
Fernando originally wanted to be a Bogus Basin instructor, but had a friend on the board of Recreation Unlimited who convinced him to try out for that program instead. What he discovered was a whole new approach to instructing, and instructors who were passionate and having fun.
Since his early days of working with students in the program, Fernando has enjoyed helping individuals become more proficient and confident on skis. This includes Lacy Heward, a student who went on to compete on the USA Paralympic Ski Team.
In addition to the gratification Fernando gets from seeing his students become proficient, he loves seeing the reaction of parents. “I like watching them observing their kids outside their normal environment,” he said. “They knew their kids had potential… I’ve seen parents in tears.”
Fernando said the “if I can do this, I can do anything” motto of Disabled Sports USA has stuck with him.
“Some of these individuals have led an active lifestyle,” he said, “and then after an accident, they’re trying to get their life back.” Others with disabilities have activities they can do during the summer months, but winter activities are severely curtailed due to weather. “Getting them outside of the house, into the environment, it helps.”
Fernando said that within two to three years of his time with Rec Unlimited, the subject of certification came up, and he realized he wanted to be more proficient as an instructor. “I wanted to learn the model of the ski school,” he said. “We take the teaching style and adapt it to the style of the student. You look at someone who has cerebral palsy or has had a stroke. It limits their movements. So you work (in another way).”
In 2010, Fernando became a Level II instructor, and also had the opportunity to be a coach on the Paralympic Ski Team. He continues to be enthusiastic about his volunteering with Rec Unlimited.
“I have the physical abilities and I have the knowledge and I want to pass this along to others. To have what I can give become someone else’s ability,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but the season goes fast because you’re involved with students.”