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Feature - A wild ride

Taking some turns with Whistler’s Adaptive Ski (and Snowboard) Program

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They’re weasel words: "I can’t." They insinuate their way into your mind when you’re up against the edges of your comfort zone. Up against your limits, and there’s that sniveling little voice, "I can’t." There are some images I conjure when the weasel-claws get their grip on me. Like an incantation, I bring forth with a wave of my hand that heinous canoe portage when our photocopied map didn’t distinguish green circle trails from black diamond trails. The big wall, when I slept on a ledge smaller than my coffee table 1,400 feet from the valley floor. The last lap of my first triathlon when I had nothing left to give, I’d thought I’d finished, and the evil volunteer was waving me on, one more lap, one more lap, and my feet like concrete boots, you’re joking? The common theme – it seemed impossible. But I did it. Therein lies the magic.

Life for 17-year-old Aaron offers up the usual hurdles – finding a date for grad, sending off college applications, directing the school play, working out at the gym so he can excel at his sports, fitting in snowboarding on the weekends. In his dreams, he moves to Ottawa for university and gets to class on time, has his picture in Transworld Magazine, and improves his snowboarding so he can ride the pipe.

Aaron Broverman is a motivated kid. "One of the reasons I want to go to Ontario for university is that Ontario is the media epicentre of Canada. And hopefully that would open doors to go to New York City. I want to go to New York and write for Rolling Stone."

I ask him for his theory on excellence: "I think you just have to be driven. You can’t be lazy. You can’t have fear. Fear is what holds you back. I don’t want to give in to negative attitude. Then you’re not willing to try anything."

I make a mental note to add Aaron’s pep talk to my weasel-busting spell. Because for Broverman, this isn’t some idle motivational speech. He has cerebral palsy.

"If I didn’t have cerebral palsy, then the world would be my oyster. I wouldn’t have anything holding me back. I love theatre and I’d love to act, but I’ve realized I’m better in a director’s role. I have the vision in my head of what I want to do as an actor, but because of my disability, it’s harder for me to execute it. I’m limited on stage because I have to have my cane. It’s a drawback, so you have to be realistic. If I didn’t have cerebral palsy, I wouldn’t have to be motivated, I could keep putting everything off. Having cerebral palsy has definitely made me more motivated. I have to be."

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