2011 Winter Sports Retreat

Over the weekend of Martin Luther King Day in 2011, 15 pairs of cross country skiers, snow-shoers, and hikers gathered for the twenty-third annual ACBO winter sports retreat at Punderson State Park near Cleveland.

Half of these winter-lovers were blind or visually impaired. Their sighted partners guided them across the snowy golf course, through the woods, and over trails in nearby parks.

Modeled after an international event called Ski for Light, this American Council of the Blind of Ohio Winter Sports Retreat allows adults who are blind to experience the joys of winter sports with as much independence as possible.

Blind skiers take verbal direction from their sighted guides as they weave among the trees and traverse up and down hills. Because the skiers and guides are not tethered, except through words from a distance, an observer wouldn’t be able to tell who was blind and who was not. This event provides an opportunity for vigorous exercise, but just as importantly, it creates an atmosphere of trust, respect, and camaraderie.

After the skiing, there are euchre and Scrabble tournaments with Braille cards and tiles, and other board games. For those who ar so inclined, there is also swimming at the indoor pool on the lower level of the Punderson manor.

While some enjoy the indoor competition, others prefer to emphasize the retreat part of the winter sports retreat, by relaxing by the fire, chatting with friends or curling up with a good book. This is one of three recreational opportunities that the American Council of the Blind of Ohio hosts each year.

Please find below a few pictures of our participants who have come mostly from Ohio. However, there are some who come from as far away as Florida, Indiana, and Texas.

Click on a thumbnail image in the gallery below to display a full size version of the image.