Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

VIP (Visually Impaired Person) in the News Again

Michelle Post of the Press of Atlantic City picked up my earlier blog post about my brother, Adam Kroelinger, 78, of Vineland, NJ, and wrote an article about him which can be found here: http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/press/cumberland/vinelander-and-blind-an-adventurer/article_185bc54e-c87c-11e1-9b72-001a4bcf887a.html

Last week while cleaning out a closet, Adam found a box of pictures and asked me to go through them with him. In the box we found pictures from his ski trip to Alaska in 2003. Here’s how it all started.

On occasion, my siblings (nine of us) and our spouses gather from various parts of the country (New Jersey, Delaware,  Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, California, Oregon) for a family reunion cruise.  On our cruise in 2002, Adam walked the promenade deck early every morning for about an hour. On the first few days of the cruise, another family member walked with him, but soon he became oriented to the ship and felt confident enough to walk by himself. He always used his cane, so people were aware of his vision problem and were always willing to assist him if he needed it.

One fellow passenger struck up a conversation with Adam and told him about Ski for Light, an organization that sponsors cross-country ski events and camping/hiking trips for (VIPs) visually impaired and (MIPs) mobility impaired persons. That was all Adam needed to hear. “I can do that!”

Adam talks with Ski for Light friend on Holland America cruise.

When Adam finished fighting with the pirates on board ship (he outsmarted them), he started planning his first ski trip.

Pirates on cruise ship threaten Adam and demand his stash of gold nuggets.

Six months later, Adam flew by himself from Philadelphia to Anchorage, Alaska, (thanks to the airlines for their excellent assistance!) and met members of the Ski for Light organization at the Alyeska Ski Resort. They paired him up with a sighted cross-country ski guide, and off he went.

Ski for Light also arranges ski trips for  MIPS (Mobility Impaired Persons) using specially-designed ski-chairs.

The best part of the trip, Adam says, was meeting other visually and physically impaired people. Seeing how they traveled and participated in the ski activities encouraged everyone involved.

A poster hanging on the wall of the ski resort said it all: “If I can do this, I can do anything.”

“Yep,” says Adam, “that’s exactly right.”

Since that trip, Adam did a second ski trip in Wisconsin and later a hiking trip in Colorado. And tonight as we talked about the trip he said, “That hiking trip was really fun. I think I’ll do that again.”

Now that’s positive thinking. How many 78-year-old men do you know that want to tackle the hiking trail?

I think the Atlantic City Press is going to hear more about this intrepid adventurer.

Look for more Ski for Light stories on their Facebook page.

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8 thoughts on “VIP (Visually Impaired Person) in the News Again

  1. Tami Clayton on said:

    What an awesome adventure your brother had! I am so glad there are organizations like Ski for Light that provide those kinds of opportunities.

    • We were lucky to encounter a man on a cruise (a family reunion) who was involved with Ski-for-Light. He noticed Adam’s cane and walking habits (around the Promenade Deck every morning and afternoon for 30 minutes) and started up a conversation and told him about Ski-for-Light. A few months later, Adam started planning his first trip. We all worried about his safety with airline flights, changing planes, etc, but the airlines provided incredible support. And the volunteers who work with Ski-for-Light are incredible, big-hearted people What a game changer for Adam. These trips gave him all kinds of confidence in what a blind person can do. Now though, his balance causes him to be discouraged more than he would normally be.

  2. He is definitely a great guy! He always has such a positive attitude.

  3. I have a friend who goes to sailing races around the world with visually impaired sailors. He tells them about what’s happening on the water as they sail. I’ve never actually seen it, but I think it is fascinating that it can be done AND that people are game to help those who don’t fit the typical profile of an athlete. Your brother sounds like an amazing guy who isn’t daunted by his impaired sight. We should all be so alive.

    • Actually, it is quite humbling to have such a fine brother. While he does get cranky from time to time (today especially, because we moved him to a new care facility), he is generally quite happy-go-lucky and can change from cranky to happy in seconds. It was amazing to watch him today as he met new people in the care facility. As soon as they realized that Adam likes to joke around, they joined in the fun. Adam’s face lights up!

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