'We are so grateful': CAF and Higher Ground host junior ski camp at Sun Valley

Posted at 12:13 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 14:18:51-05

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The Challenged Athletes Foundation alongside Higher Ground hosted a junior nordic and alpine skiing camp in Sun Valley this past weekend with several adaptive athletes from all across the country in attendance.

"It was so fun," Kennedy Littledike, a snowboarder from Burley, Idaho said. "I was a little nervous being strapped to one board because I'm missing my left leg, so I don’t have my lead foot. I'm doing it a little goofy, but I am learning it well."

It was Littledike's first time snowboarding since her accident last year that required her leg to be amputated, and now she's carving mountainsides, something she didn't know would be possible until this camp.

“I am loving it. My favorite part is learning and trying something new that I never could do before my accident and now that I can do it after my accident is pretty cool," she said. "I snowboarded yesterday with the outrigger, and then today we tried with the big hula hoop thing so I didn’t hurt my humerus cause it is still broken."

Talia Cassel, and her dad, David, flew from Chicago for nordic skiing. It was not only her first time trying the sport, but also Talia's first time in the mountains.

"I am proud of her," David said. "She doesn’t get the opportunity to try new stuff like this, and she found this opportunity and asked if she could do it. She came out here and I am just so proud as a dad."

"My favorite part is trying something new that I have never done before and getting to do it with all these people, and just improving my skills," Talia added.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation provides grants and equipment for adaptive athletes, like Talia and Littledike, to try new sports, and attend camps making it more accessible for people with physical disabilities.

"It is amazing," David said. "We don’t have the resources to be able to do this stuff on our own, so having the Foundation and having expenses paid for us through them just means the world, and it means so much to Talia. We are just so grateful."

A camp that also provided these kids and their families with a lot more than just learning a new sport.

"Being a part of the camp has helped me a lot actually. I was in denial about everything at first, so I didn’t want to be a part of anything at all after my accident," Littledike said. "Then coming here opened my eyes a lot to different people and answered a lot of questions that I had that I would have never known if I didn’t come here."

"Yesterday I got to ski with Talia, so I was standing next to her while she was seated and learning to ski, and it will be with me forever," David said.

For upcoming CAF camps and events, visit their website