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At nearly 100, woman skis for first time

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RAPID CITY, S.D. >> Edyth Warne, 99, is proof that dreams can be achieved at any age. She skied for the first time with the help of Black Hills Ski for Light.

Skiing was “on her bucket list,” said her grandson, Austin Pearce. Warne, of Rapid City, will celebrate her 100th birthday in March.

“She’s always been limited by physical disabilities. Ever since I’ve known my grandma, she’s been held to a walker or wheelchair,” he said. “She always wanted to ski.”

Every January, Black Hills Ski for Light hosts a winter event that gives people with visual or mobility impairments opportunities to enjoy winter sports. This week, 110 participants from across the United States and 60 volunteers were in the Black Hills for outdoor adventures, the Rapid City Journal reported.

With the help of volunteers and adaptive equipment, Warne enjoyed three runs at Terry Peak. Including Warne, five generations of her family were there, and some of her great-grandchildren skied along with her, according to Tim Brumbaugh, a Ski For Light board member and volunteer.

Warne has a fused hip and because of macular degeneration, she is blind, Brumbaugh said. She was able to ski by using a sit ski that was guided by Brumbaugh. Before her skiing day, Brumbaugh said he met with her to talk about Ski for Light and the opportunity for her to ski.

“She was super excited to go up and go skiing,” Brumbaugh said. “Everybody had a great time. She had a pretty big entourage.”

Volunteers ensured Warne was dressed for the sunny but brisk winter weather and strapped her into the sit ski. Warne rode the ski lift and skied multiple runs. Both she and Brumbaugh wore helmets equipped with microphones so they could talk to each other during each run.

Afterward, Brumbaugh said, Warne was all smiles. “She said, ‘Oh, this is so much fun. I got another one off my bucket list,’” he said.

Black Hills Ski for Light is open to adults 18 and older. Although a lack of snow hindered this year’s cross-country skiing and snowmobiling activities, participants did a lot of hiking and snowshoeing, said Ray Bubb, Ski for Light’s acting president.

Participants typically range in age from 18 to mid-60s. Warne is the oldest participant in several years, Bubb said.

“We’ve been having a great time,” he said.

Black Hills Ski for Light is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization based in Rapid City. The organization is perpetually in need of more volunteers 18 and older to assist with the winter Ski for Light and a Ski Swap fundraiser each fall.

Volunteers don’t need to be skiers because the adaptive equipment accommodates guides and participants.

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