“What I do on weekends in the winter is life-changing for me,” says Ed Meltzer.

Ed is a volunteer adaptive ski instructor with New England Disabled Sports, a nonprofit organization that provides adaptive sport instruction to adults and children with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Ed, president of Basic Marketing Services, Inc., a Boston area manufacturers rep firm, has been involved in adaptive skiing since 2005. He was introduced to the program at Loon Mountain near Lincoln, New Hampshire, by a participant and family friend with multiple sclerosis. Ed has also been a volunteer in Breckenridge, Colorado, for the past eight years.

To be an adaptive ski instructor, a person doesn’t just show up and start volunteering. First, instructors have to pass a test that demonstrates they are able to ski at an intermediate level. Then they go through extensive training and attend refresher clinics every year.

Fully certified in adaptive ski instruction, Ed recently became a member of the Adaptive Board of Education of the Professional Ski Instructors of America.

“I’m now being trained to do clinics for other adaptive skiing programs. This is all part of my personal commitment to ‘pay it forward,’” says Ed, who is also close to being fully certified as an Alpine ski instructor.

Ed enjoys working with mono skiers. A mono ski, also known as a “sit ski,” is a device used by skiers with limited use of, or absence, of the lower extremities. It features a bucket-style seat mounted on a frame with a single ski.

“I’ve worked with a lot of mono skiers in Colorado, many of whom are soldiers that recently lost one or both legs,” says Ed. “Mono skiing gives people a great deal of independence, as they can self-load, get on and off the ski lift, ski down the hill, and do it all over again.”

Ed’s first mono ski student was a British soldier who lost his legs in a bomb attack in Iraq.
“He had never skied before, and, until then, I had only been an understudy in teaching mono skiing, so we learned together,” says Ed. “I’m proud to say that skier qualified for the Great Britain team for the Winter Paralympics in Sochi.”

This kind of volunteer work often inspires new friendships. Ed met and coached Steve Woolfenden, a survivor of the Boston Marathon Bombing and fellow New Englander.

“Steve was a skier before the (attack), which blew off his leg below the knee. He was determined to ski again and I was fortunate enough to spend a full week teaching him to ski with a prosthetic leg,” says Ed. “We have been friends ever since.”

In his 50s, Ed says he is probably one of the older adaptive ski instructors.

“I like to let people know that it is possible at my age to achieve full certification as a ski instructor, or ride 100 miles on a bicycle,” he says. “A few generations ago, this was rare.”

When asked if he plans to do this for the rest of his life, Ed did not hesitate.

“Yes. I absolutely love it. In fact, if I retire, I plan to become a ski bum,” says Ed.

Gretchen Roufs, a 25-year janitorial supply industry veteran, owns a marketing and public relations company in San Antonio. To suggest someone you think should be featured in “Freetime,” contact her at Gretchen@GretchenRoufs.com.