Kids of Courage Conquers Illness Through Adventure


kids-of-courageSkiing down the slopes with the wind on your face and the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow is the ultimate winter sport for healthy able-bodied children and adults, right? Wrong! Once again, Kids of Courage has proven its ability to “Conquer illness through adventure” as 52 medically fragile Couragers braved the snowy vistas of Mount Snow on Sunday, January 5th. With the help of Ability Plus and tens of different adaptive skiing devices, the Couragers whooshed down the mountain, separated from their fellow skiers only by the larger smiles and the amazing feeling of accomplishment.

The Fifth Annual Kids of Courage Weekend kicked off on Thursday, January 2nd. After loading up at HASC, three charter buses headed to Springfield, Massachusetts with a stop at New Roc City for arcades, bowling, laser tag and pizza. On Friday, memories were created at New England’s second most visited tourist attraction: Yankee Candle Village. Over 200 campers, volunteers and guests experienced an inspiring Shabbos with delicious food and wonderful accommodations. A rocking Melave Malka concert courtesy of Soul Farm rounded out the night. Sunday morning dawned bright and early as bleary eyed travelers boarded the buses for Mount Snow, Vermont.

Here is one camper’s Ski Madness experience:

Flash back one year to January 15, 2013. I am in the hospital getting prepped for surgery. As I sit there reminiscing about the great experience I just had on K.O.C.’s Ski Madness Adventure, I remember, the fun, the laughter, and the ordinary feeling of sitting around with friends, not worrying about the hardships that come with having a disability. Those memories helped me through the difficult surgery and recovery. Now, almost a year later I am standing on top of Mount Snow, strapped to a snowboard ready to conquer the mountain. I hear cheers from my fellow Couragers, my friends. “You can do it!” They are watching as I and the other campers come rushing down the mountain, feeling the wind in our hair as if there is no care in the world. While on Mount Snow there are no thoughts of doctors, medications, g-tubes or pain. From the time we are strapped into our skis or onto our snowboard the thoughts in our heads are ‘I can do anything’. No longer am I the girl with no arms and crooked legs. Now in this moment, I am the normal young adult about to board down a mountain. There are those of us that cannot walk, or see, yet we are all carefree and fearless for that bit of time.

Each camper is assigned a team of ski instructors who spends the day with them on runs down the mountain. Disabilities do not slow us down as Ability Plus along with Kids of Courage are equipped and ready to tackle what most would consider an impossibility. Ventilators, oxygen tanks, lack of limbs, and fear are conquered by determination. Whether it is a camper who needs to be duct taped into a bi-ski or a blind camper with a group of guides, he or she is given the care and attention needed so they can experience what was once thought to be a dream.   The opportunity to ski and snowboard is a chance of freedom for us Couragers. It is a chance to brag to our friends and family back home that we too can go skiing.

To many of us, Kids of Courage is not an organization, but a family that is there for us when times are tough. Kids of Courage is there – not only on trips, but throughout the year. K.O.C. volunteers are calling us and putting smiles on our faces after a hard day. The four instructors who were with me at Mount Snow kept asking me how each staff member knew each kid by name and how they had the energy to cheer as each one passed them.  I answered that they are my family. Their constant cheering does not stop once we get off the buses. Whether it is taking a Courager out for dinner, a phone call, or a text at 2AM because they know we are awake, they are there. They are individuals who volunteer their time so we can have a dream vacation. Everyone has their favorite times; for one camper it is the skiing, for others it is spending time over Shabbos with their Kids of Courage family.  Hanging out in the hotel and talking to the others who are in the same predicament, laughing and smiling, bonding over the hardships they face by living with a disability. On a Kids of Courage trip, it is not age, gender, or religion that unites us, instead it is love and the determination to get through life with the right attitude.

The trip was over two days ago and I have not yet unpacked my suitcase. The one thing that will never be unpacked is the memory of a perfect weekend; a weekend filled with fresh snow, beautiful blue skies, laughter and amazing memories.  The four days of excitement and awesome madness will stay with me until the next Kids of Courage event.

Kids of Courage appreciates the generosity of its corporate sponsors, vendors, and friends: J Drugs, Apria Healthcare, Five Towns Jewish Times, Gourmet Glatt, HASC, Peter Pan Buses, Sheraton Springfield Monarch Place Hotel, First Class Caterers, Royal Care Inc, Ability Plus, Spyder and Peak Resorts.

Many thanks to each and every one of you who helped create millions of memories.

Kids of Courage is a volunteer-based 501(C)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to improve the lives of medically fragile children and young adults and their families through year round programming and annual adventures. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

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  1. “Kids of Courage Conquers Illness Through Adventure”

    There is no guarantee that such activities ‘conquer illness’.

    There are various things that can be done to help cholim, including cheering them up in various ways, that do not necessitate such expensive vacations, which can be quite costly in terms of money, time, and manpower. Thanks to those who are helping the cholim, but let them be open to using less costly options as well.

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  2. to “perspective”

    you are more than welcome to open an organization and run it anyway you want!

    koc doesn’t only do these “expensive” trips
    they are involved all year with these cholim
    ie shabbatons and daily life activities as well(my son is very involved with koc for many years )

    so there is no need to knock this organization

  3. #1 How can you write such a thing. These children deserve fun just like any other child. Either you don’t have children or you have never had a nisayon with your children.You should be thankful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu that you don’t have to witness such sadness. Money, time and manpower were put to very good use.Kol Hakavod to the organizers and volunteers.

  4. “These children deserve fun just like any other child.”

    Kids can enjoy life without costly trips. There are plenty of kids growing up in places like Lakewood, Eretz Yisroel, etc., who manage to enjoy life without going skiing. Have you ever heard the expression ‘the simple pleasures of life’?

  5. my brother has cp and it is what he looks forward to these trips and im sorry but put yourself in their shoes and then maybe you will realize that your pleasures of life cannot be done by them ps. KOC ROX

  6. mr “perspective”

    are you perhaps jealous that you cant take your kids skiing etc or perhaps you want to go

    you are truly a sick person
    who needs to get a life
    get back to work or the gemara
    or hocking around
    whatever it is that you do

    how dare you knock such a holy organization
    where everyone and I mean everyone is a volunteer

    the head of this organization is the famous dr ditchek
    a tzadik who has an extremely busy practice and could relax in his spare time(the little that he has) but has dedicated his life to bring life to these souls
    and you try to find fault

  7. my brother has been involved with KOC since inception. it is selfless volunteering on the staff members behalf to allow these children to live and be like normal children. no one i know ever takes their children adaptive skiing. this is an opportunity for these children to experience “normal” activities even without “normal” bodies. costs are fundraised and clearly not from your pocket Perspective. but why oh why do you have such a hard time farginning children who have such hard suffering lives already have a little enjoyment a few times a year to ease their pain and challenges?