Ability Blog Archives - Page 3 of 6 - National Ability Center

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Jake and Rebecca Risch Share Possibility

The National Ability Center is one big, warm community. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to try new things and push their limits.”

When a sit skier caught the imaginations of Houston twins, Jake and Rebecca Risch, their family vacation at Deer Valley Resort became an opportunity to make an impact. With a little research and a visit to the National Ability Center, the Risches found the National Ability Center to be the perfect Mitzvah project for their upcoming B’nai Mitzvah.

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I am National Ability Center: Ward & Perry Families

At the National Ability Center two families with similarly aged sons– one with high-functioning autism and the other with Muscular Dystrophy find possibilities, community and belonging.

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I am National Ability Center: 30 Years

Since its founding in 1985, the National Ability Center has touched countless lives. These are just a few stories from the past 30 years.



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I am National Ability Center: Missy Cowley

Born with Spina Bifida, Missy Cowley has been skiing with the National Ability Center from a young age. She is unstoppable!

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I am National Ability Center: Taylor Davis

Born in South Dakota, Taylor E. Davis was adopted by a couple living in Salt Lake City.  He grew up fly fishing, rock climbing and skiing in the mountains of Utah.

At the age of 18, Taylor enlisted in the United States Marine Corps., and spent the next four years assigned to 1st Battalion 1st Marine 1st Marine Division as an Infantryman. His first deployment was in 2009 on the 13th MEU on the USS Boxer supporting  counter piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.

While on deployment, Taylor was injured; fracturing his spine, herniating nine disks in his back and receiving a blast wound. He left the Marines in 2011 to pursue his civilian career. Taylor entered helicopter pilot school, earning three licenses. He then attended Salt Lake Community College and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Geographical Information Systems/Environmental Geology.

While in school, Taylor worked as a fly-fishing guide and a wilderness therapy guide.

He also participated in a ski event at the National Ability Center and found that being outside and active in the Utah mountains he had grown up in, helped his PTSD. After two years of participating in programs, Taylor applied to work for the National Ability Center. He then joined our staff as the National Ability Center’s military and group program supervisor, a position allowing him to connect with, and give back to, veterans every day.

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Amy Muller: Make it “You Can”

Guest Blogger Amy Muller shares her National Ability Center experience.

About the blogger: The Marketing Director for Accessible Systems of Utah, Amy Muller loves to run, travel and is an adventure enthusiast. Her experiences have fueled her passion to help those with disabilities and the aging population lead independent lives at home and on the road. Amy, her husband Jameson and four daughters came to Park City and the National Ability Center in December of 2014 with the Help of the Make A Wish Foundation of Utah.

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Jose Fernandez-Gill: Paying it Forward

It’s because of the confidence and self esteem I learned through skiing that I’ve been able to move forward.


In 2012 Jose Fernandez-Gill moved to Salt Lake City, Utah from the mainland of Hawaii, and found a passion and the confidence that would change his world for the better.

A U.S. veteran, Jose had felt overwhelmed by his diagnosis with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as severe general anxiety disorder. Despite it’s impact on his life, Jose held his diagnosis back, hoping no one would find out. Eventually, he accepted his diagnosis and started on the path to healing with his new service dog, Pele and recommendations that exercise could help him control his panic attacks.
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Saylor O’Brien: Driven

Action Camp opened up a world Saylor knew was there but had not really seen as of yet; it introduced her to people that could help her achieve her dreams and continue that spirit of being able to do anything.

learning to bi skiThe National Ability Center’s 2015-16 season is just beginning at Park City, and one young skier is getting an early start on her 2022 Paralympic dreams.
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Layla Shelmire: Overcoming the Unexpected

Stories like Layla’s remind us that the abilities many of us take for granted, such as treading water, expressing emotions or displaying resilience in the face of adversity can mean everything.

At just three years of age, Layla Shelmire joined the National Ability Center’s aquatics and equestrian program this summer. Her family hoped that recreating with the National Ability Center could help her learn new skills, build self-esteem and form lasting relationships. They could not have anticipated these lessons might also save her life. Read More

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