Summer visits to Snowbird is a family tradition. Its one that I remember the most during the summer of 2006. I smashed my left knee into a million pieces on a dirt bike. The orthopedic surgeon pieced it back together but I was stuck in a wheelchair for 6 long weeks.

My sister took me up to Snowbird to get me out of the house and we found Tina Basich’s book Pretty Good For A Girl in the bookstore. Tina Basich is one of the pioneers of snowboarding. She was there when it started, when the competitions began, when it was accepted and when it went mainstream. It really is an incredible story and one that I needed at the time.

I wrote a letter to Tina, though I never sent it. I was at rock bottom and I loved snowboarding, but I hadn’t decided to pursue it yet. There I was, the first above-knee amputee to compete in Adaptive Snowboarding and stand on a podium, but I was stuck in a wheelchair.That summer I decided that even though it wasn’t considered a sport, and the industry doubted our every move, I wanted to snowboard.

For the first since I heard the words, you have cancer, I  had found something that made me happy, something I could be good at. Most people don’t follow their dreams because of the obstacles, the impossible odds, and the emotional challenge. It takes courage to keep going and sometimes we decide not to use it.

The letter basically thanked Tina for taking the time to write the book. And it reminded me that she signed my snowboard at USASA Nationals that year. But I didn’t know who she was. Her parents encouraged her to follow her heart and that’s exactly what I did too.

Snowboarding changed her life, and years later it changed mine.