Archive for March, 2012

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Crazy Hat Contest

March 24th, 2012

Reminder,  Crazy Hat Contest

Just a quick reminder that this trip will include our annual Crazy Hat Contest that will be held during Saturday Night’s pot luck. Our own Burns and Allen team of Craig and Denise Kirkpatrick will host and lead our team of celebrity judges to determine who in the group has the craziest hat and who willl get the special prize.

The slalom course will also be setup for the Ski A Thon; who will have the fastest lap this year? I believe Big Al will attempt to get his title back, rumor is he’s been training really hard.  Maybe we can get all the monoskiers through the slalom, can anyone beat me? :-)

Lastly, if you’re planning on atttending the trip, please have your reservation in by this Wednesday.  Please send the Trip Form to

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President’s Message

March 14th, 2012

From the desk of the President


            Once again it was another epic adventure for our March trip. For the first time, we rented a van to transport students up to the mountain. I am hoping that we will be able to do this for our next trip. This depends on two things, one, that we have enough students interested to make it worthwhile. Number two, we need a qualified safe driver who can leave about mid day on Friday. If you are interested and able, please let us know.


            Congratulations to first time student Andrew “Drew” Shelley and first time instructor Michelle Pastor. We had a great time skiing with both of them. Our day with Drew began on a snow bike and ended with some jumps underneath the chair on Sesame Street. I thought we had worn him out. After a short nap in the condo, he rallied back and was giving rides on the small skateboard on the back of his chair to the kids at the pot-luck. Both will bring great energy to our group. I look forward to both of them skiing / instructing with us in the future. Also, Andrew has done extensive traveling around the world. A film crew traveled with him and made a documentary about his adventures. It is called “Beyond the Chair”.  Google it for more information. We are hoping to set up a screening at some point in Orange County. There are also some screenings near Claremont and in the San Diego area that are coming up soon.  Watch for more information. We also met Drew’s parents Tom and Barbara. They are both avid skiers and Tom has worked ski patrol. We look forward to them joining us as instructors.


            Now to the serious part. Ski-a-thon is upon us! This is our major fundraising event of the season for the group. Virtually all of our funding comes from individual private donations. Though we are on stable ground financially, it seems as if participation in both fundraising and the Ski-a-thon has been lagging. There have been discussions within the board that there is a possibility we might have to begin charging  for lessons, as DSES and most other DSUSA chapters across the country do. Another aspect of this is that we have seen some students not participating in fundraising at all. We recognize that the economy is less than perfect, and that individual students may not have the means to pay. That being said, we are more interested in the effort than the size of the donation. A few dollars here and a few dollars there will add up quickly. We do not want to turn anyone away if money keeps them from being able to ski, but we also would encourage students and families who have the ability to pay for some or all of condo and equipment expenses to do so. This will allow us more resources to use for first time students and those who might otherwise not be able to ski.  I was recently contacted by the family of one of our first time students, they were so impressed with our group that they plan on making a donation to us. I would encourage anyone in similar circumstances to consider doing the same.


            Special thanks to Greg White who was able to obtain our first donations via Pay Pal. Instructions on doing this can be found at our website Ski-a-thon materials are also available here. This is a convenient way for individuals to donate directly to the group without having to write a check.


            Finally, thank all of you for what you do in this grand and noble enterprise. I continue to be both humbled and honored to be your president. We should have great snow for our next trip, and I am optimistic that there will still be good snow in May. See you on the mountain.


Gary “Commander G” Konecne



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A Student Recent Experience

March 8th, 2012

Hello Achievers,

How’s everyone doing on their pledges?  The Ski-A-Thon is less than 3 weeks out; we need everyone’s help to raise money to so we’ll have the necessary funds to maintain and replace older equipment, and provide accomodations for first time students.   To make the process easier, we have finally setup a Donate link on our website, anyone can now donate by using a credit card through Paypal. 

You can also donate by pasting this link into your browser address bar:


Next, we have a great summary written by Racquel Decipeda, who recently joined DSOC.  She went on her first trip with The Achiever’s in February.  The following is her account of the experience.



Alpine Skiing, My New Achievement

Being blind, I have so many wishes and dreams. I think I was 12 or 13 years old when I was first told that eventually I may become totally blind. Well My eyesight started deteriorating at 15 and progressively got worse till I am left now with only some light   perception.  So for a teenager and being a girl, this knowledge was not easy. I wondered, what’s going to happen to me now? What kind of life will I have? Eventually I have accepted my blindness; met other blind who are successful and seem to be living a full life. I learned independent living skills; got a job; met more blind people in different stages of life; and overall realized that losing your sight is not the end of the world. You could do things that quote and quote normal / sighted people could do, and sometimes even more.


There are things that I had wished for, dreamt about, wondered how I would accomplish or be able to do and used to think I will never have an opportunity to experience because I am blind. But, I can share that four of the things I just used to wish for, dream of, wonder about have become a reality already for me. Those four things are driving a car, riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, deep sea fishing and alpine skiing.


Twenty one years ago a friend had let me drive his car in a big, open hayfield after finding out that I wanted to experience that. I had two more opportunities to do that: once in a big shopping center parking lot and another when a girlfriend had let me drive for half a block on the actual street, a back road in Laughlin, NV. My Harley Davidson dream ride happened for me last year in 2011. Whenever I see or hear a Harley on the street, I say to myself I need to find someone who will let me ride their Harley someday. When I was a Volunteer Coordinator for a nonprofit in La, I received a call from a woman looking for some volunteers who could transport some folks to an event in Orange County. She told me that there is a group of bikers that get together annually and provide a ride on their Harleys to blind people. So one morning in May 2011, myself and   three other friends, traveled from San Fernando Valley to Lake Forest in Orange County to join this ride.


Then, mid July 2011, at a friend’s house blessing party, I met Gordon Chan. We discovered that we have a lot in common and became good friends. When I went home from that party, I got on my computer to check if I could find him on FaceBook. When I saw on his profile that two of his hobbies are alpine skiing and fishing, I told myself that I need to ask him more about that.  The next time we chatted I mentioned to Gordon that I would like to go fishing and skiing one day. He said, “Really?” He did not hesitate to say: “I can probably arrange for that to happen.” We talked about it. He organized a deep sea fishing trip where I caught the most fish and really enjoyed the whole experience. He told me to research and read about The Achievers Orange County online. He invited me to attend the Membership meeting to officially join the Disabled Sports group. He told me to start doing some exercises to prepare my body. We planned for the trip. He went shopping with me and helped me purchased the things I will need for the trip. He made condo and transportation arrangements for me. And finally, on February 3, 2012, I was in the presidential limo heading up to Mammoth Mountain.


I had mix feelings of excitement, anxiousness and nervousness about the weekend. Excited because I was going to a new adventure. Anxious and nervous because not knowing what really to expect and wondering how things will turn out. I guess I was also subconsciously scared about getting hurt. At the same time I kept telling myself that I’m sure I don’t have anything to worry about. Gordon is there. He’s been doing this for years. So if he can do it, I can too.


The whole weekend was very nice. The weather was perfect. Cold at nights and in the early mornings, but once you get under the sun and when you get on your skis, you don’t feel the coldness anymore. I have met so many wonderful, welcoming and encouraging folks. Denise and Craig Kirkpatrick, Eileen and Gordon have made me feel comfortable and welcomed. They were good and kind. I would love to share a condo with them any time. Craig and Lisa Martin were great instructors, very patient, very encouraging. Thank you so much! Thank you so much also to Karrie for helping me correct my forming bad habits. Thank you to Eric for joining us and working with me. Putting on the heavy ski boots, learning and doing the basic steps and stands I need to know and keeping in mind that I need to keep my balance were not easy. I was getting tired. I can feel that my shins were already hurting, but I kept on going until they told me it’s time to go back to the trailer for lunch or it’s the end of the day. On Sunday morning when they put the tether on me, I thought to myself, “Oh my God!” I was so scared. I almost backed out. I don’t know if they saw the expression on my face. I literally had tears in my eyes and had told myself, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I can’t remember if I had said it aloud too. I may have. But then Lisa said, “Okay, come on, you can do it!” In my head I said, “I’m already here. I gotta go. Don’t let the fear overrule you. Just concentrate on what they’re going to tell you and concentrate on moving your feet and skis to the direction they tell you.” I think it was Craig who said, “Don’t worry; we’re here for you.” So I took my first step! We did about six runs on the beginner slope. The more runs we did, I felt my fear lessening more and more.  Sunday morning session felt so   short and it was already time to go. Ahh! Till next trip!


The motto of the Achievers is, “if I can do this, I can do anything!”


You never know what life has in store for you. You may be someone with full use of your five senses and full use of your hands and feet, or you may be someone with a disability due to illness or because of an accident. One thing for sure, you should not stop wishing and dreaming. Even when you think that your wishes and dreams are very impossible and you don’t know how and when it will ever come true, if you would only believe and never stop dreaming, those reams will become real. And even when you’re afraid, do not let that fear overrule you. Because if you do, you will miss out on so much of what life still has to offer you.

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