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You can make a difference in the lives of more people with disabilities by giving a special gift today. Your donation will further our goal to increase programming so that we can serve everyone who wants to participate in adaptive recreation. Please donate today!
When Milan arrived for his first snow ski lesson at Achieve Tahoe, he was nervous.
“I was nervous because the mountain was so high,” Milan says. “Then I got used to it and I love it. Now I’m really good at skiing.”
Britt, his first instructor, noticed his shift from nervousness to believing in himself. “You could tell he was smiling even though he was all bundled up – with every small victory he got more and more outgoing, realizing that he could ski and this sport was for him.”
Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household in Kings Beach on Lake Tahoe, Milan does not come from a skiing family. His mom, Angelica, has struggled to find accessible and affordable activities in the Tahoe area that he can participate in with his cerebral palsy, a developmental disability caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain before, during, or immediately after birth. For Milan, this means that he has hemi-paresis, or muscle weakness, on one side of his body.
“His right side of his body, it’s just kind of weak. It affects his brain. One day he can be really good, the next it’s hard,” says his mother, Angelica.
Before they found Achieve Tahoe, Angelica tried to get him involved in other local youth organizations.
“I tried to put him in sports and the Boys and Girls Club, but to be honest … the kids were really hard on him. He would come home crying, saying, ‘This boy told me I cannot do this, I cannot do that. And I’m not good at that.’ Now at Achieve Tahoe, I like it because nobody’s telling him it's not good enough… He's just doing it. He's enjoying it. And you know, every sport that he's been doing here, he loves it.”
Since starting with Achieve Tahoe, Milan has tried many new sports in addition to skiing. This past summer he has done climbing, archery, paddleboarding, sailing, and equestrian. Throughout his time at Achieve Tahoe, Milan’s smile, laughter, and kindness have enthused staff, volunteers, and participants alike. Every volunteer knows Milan for his Michael Jackson dance moves and his shout of joy whenever he accomplishes something new.
Milan and his family are thrilled there is an adaptive recreation program near their home and are grateful for Achieve Tahoe’s ability to provide financial assistance through the Scholarship Program.
“To be honest, if you didn’t have a scholarship program, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” Angelica says. “You have this program for people who need it, and we love it. At first, I was scared to come because my English is not going to be perfect, but you guys take the time to hear us and listen whenever I talk. We feel comfortable, like we’re with family.”
For Angelica, every day Milan spends with Achieve Tahoe is a good day.
“Every time I come here with him and do a sport with him, I enjoy it. Every time we work with different people, and they are all awesome. You guys teach my son not to limit himself, that he can do everything. Every day is special.”
For Milan, every day is filled with fun and adventure. What’s more, his experience with Achieve Tahoe has even helped him decide what he wants to be when he grows up.
“My favorite sport is horsey [equestrian]… I want to be a cowboy. I want to be a bull rider!”
You can help more children, like Milan, build health confidence, and independence by giving a special gift to Achieve Tahoe today. Thank you for your support!