WINTER PARK - When he's not not figuring out logistics for the Wells Fargo Ski Cup, Erik Petersen is teaching disabled athletes how to ski.
"Sometimes you get people that just, have the drive and the desire and they just know exactly what they want to do," Petersen said.
Petersen is the director of Paralympic programs for the National Sports Center for the Disabled at Winter Park. The NSCD is hosting its annual fundraiser to support its programs.
"Wells Fargo Ski Cup is our biggest fundraiser throughout the year. We raise about $250,000 for our programs," Diane Eustace, NSCD marketing director, said.
Six years ago, Mark Urich had no idea how to ski. He is an amputee born with a condition that stopped his right femur from growing. Ulrich remembers his first day on the slopes.
"I was awful. It took me 45 minutes, my coach will laugh, to get down Cramner (ski run). I was not good. But, after a couple days, I started to get it," Urich said.
Under the instruction of Petersen, Urich learned how to ski race. Now, he may represent the United States at the next Paralympics in South Korea.
"Snow is the great equalizer," Urich said. "Snow doesn't care if you have one leg, no legs, doesn't care if your deaf or blind. Gravity is gravity. Edges are edges and snow is slick."
Even though the NSCD may send nearly 30 athletes to the Paralympics, Petersen says that's not the reason he does his job.
"Medals don't really matter to me, but for me, if 10 years from now, if they're to come to me and say you changed my life. You made me this type of person, this better person, then Ive done my job," Petersen said.
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