By Kim Seevers, Program Development and Grants Director
The first Race4All inclusive race, generously sponsored by Dralla Foundation, took place March 4th at Windham Mountain as part of the Michael Gray Jr Memorial Race. Adaptive Sports Foundation students partnered with able-bodied counterparts to form teams of two to compete against each other in a dual slalom race.
A dual racing format typically means there are two similar courses set side-by-side with two racers competing against each other. In the Race4All format, one member of the team was on each course and the team raced together. Finish time was the combined time of the two partners. ASF students and their partners were matched up ahead of time and introduced to each other before the race to prepare.
15 year old ASF racer Michael O’Hearn’s partner was 73 year young Lissi Gray, an unlikely pair, but quite possibly the team that had the most fun racing together. Lissi told us what a pleasure it was to have Michael as her teammate.
“What a super nice and charismatic young man Michael is. He immediately shook my hand, smiled, and enthusiastically began preparing me for our slalom.”Michael said of his partner, “This past Saturday, I was given the honor to ski in a dual slalom race with Lissi Gray. Aside from Lissi’s amazing skiing, she was a wonderful teammate, friend, and racer.”
Upon meeting before the start of the Race4All, Michael and Lissi began their race prep. Michael was so impressed with Lissi’s positive attitude and reported that her hilarious jokes put him in a great racing mood. The two even came up with a team name; O’Gray! Team O’Gray stood side by side in the starting gates, ready to take on the course. Lissi reports that, out of the starting gate, Michael “took off like a shot, leaving this old lady behind!” Michael was really impressed with Lissi’s skiing and racing ability. Whatever it was, the great chemistry between Michael and Lissi led to a well-earned silver medal. The two joined gold medalists Sam Skinner and Michael McCarthy on the podium to accept their medals and could be seen wearing them throughout the evening. “Great racer! Big hugs to Michael, a wonderful young man,” says Lissi. Michael responded saying, “I really hope I get the opportunity to ski with Lissi again.”
Dralla Foundation’s goal with this award was to bring together young people with disabilities to compete together with their peers. Participants wore beautiful new race bibs, got a great Race4All tee shirt and won special Dralla Foundation medals. All goals were met in spades as there were smiles and hugs all around, with everyone looking forward to doing it again next year. Thank you Dralla Foundation!