Ritchie’s Story

Take a moment to read this story…Richie is one of our amazing little friends with a big personality!

Richie started skiing with VASS – Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports 4 years ago when he was 4 years old.  Here is his story told by his awesome mama Jenny.   

“Our journey started on July 22, 2011: Richie, burst into the world, nine weeks early. We were in love, but with his very early arrival came questions as to what the future would hold for him – and us.  When he was a year old, after what felt like millions of visits to BC Children’s Hospital, we finally received a diagnosis: Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. We wondered if Richie will ever walk? Run? Swim? Ride a bike? Ski? 

What we quickly learned is that a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean the future is clear. What the neurologist did make clear was that Richie would determine his own future. It would be his determination and perseverance that would dictate how active he would become.

In September 2015, on one of our many, visits to Grouse Mountain, we learned about VASS and signed Richie up immediately. Four year old Richie, struggled to walk more than 20 steps continuously in his walker, yet two VASS Angels: Tom and Stuart  got him in a ski walker and, by the end of the season, Richie had made it down Paradise. Two years later, his instructor Rick, introduced him to sit-skiing and what independent skiing will look like years from now.

Richie is now a two-time triathlete, a Terry Fox run participant, a two-time VASS Cup ski racer, a Lorraine McLatchie Award winner, and most recently, a sit-skier. How? Because of VASS Magic.

VASS is more than an organization that makes the North Shore mountains assessable for people with disabilities; it extends beyond the ski season and into everyday life. VASS has given Richie the confidence to approach challenges head-on and not question whether or not he can participate in an activity, but the knowledge that he can – that’s ‘VASS Magic’. Anne Bethune and her Angels, teach VASS students that they don’t have disabilities, rather the ability to do anything and everything; whether it’s sit-skiing The Cut, training for race season with the Blue Streaks, or participating in every-day-regular school activities.

I wish that I knew then, when Richie was born, what I know now of what is possible for Richie.  I wouldn’t have worried about his future.

Thanks to VASS, we can see the future clearly, and it looks bright as a beautiful blue bird day at Grouse ️ Thank you #vassmagic and Grouse Mountain!”



Thanks to amazing volunteers like Tom, Stuart, Rick and others, VASS can continue to provide ski and snowboard programs for people with disabilities. If you are interested in supporting VASS why not join us at the VASS Cup & Snowfest on March 7 at Grouse Mountain as a volunteer or a participant? Find out more at www.vass.ca/vass-cup.