WINDHAM, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A group of kids with disabilities on Tuesday received a life-changing experience on the slopes with their doctors thanks to a local hospital.
It’s taken 15-year-old Niayrah Smith four surgeries over 12 years to get to where she is today — mobile enough to test out her brand new skis despite being diagnosed just after birth with cerebral palsy.
“I didn’t know that I was going to walk again,” Smith said.
Now the teen from Queens can do all that and then some thanks to specialized care from her doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery, who got to trade in their scrubs for ski gear to share in their patients’ accomplishments.
“I’ve had the privilege of watching her grow and gain confidence,” Dr. David Scher said.
Niayrah was confident enough to join the group of teens and kids just like her as part of the Winter Adventure at Windham Mountain Ski Resort.
Instructors use special tools to help them get down the hill. Limited mobility definitely didn’t stop six-year-old Harry Tay from zooming down the slopes. to help, he was strapped into a special “ski-sit.”
“He uses a wheelchair and a walker to get around and crutches to get around,” mom Jasmine Tay said. “We want him to feel like he can do anything.”
Working with the Adaptive Sports Foundation, the hospital is able to offer life changing experiences for people with disabilities. While all the kids had to undergo various surgeries to their hips, knees, ankles and feet, what they all have in common is their shared determination.
“It feels good to finally be able to fit in,” Long Island eighth grader Aidan Conroy said. “Now this year, I feel like I’ve improved so much.”
Aidan’s mom, Andrea, says the journey has been “incredible.”
“The Hospital for Special Surgery and Dr. S, they’re amazing folks,” she said. “They give these kids their life.”
In some cases, a few of the kids thought they’d never be able to walk, let alone ski.
“I feel like I can do anything,” Niayrah said.
Aidan says skiing inspired him to take on even more challenges, like surfing this past summer. Next up, he says, is skydiving in the near future.