Willie Stewart and John Humbrecht are the newest members of the U.S. Disabled Snow Sports Hall of Fame, which is coordinated by Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA).
The U.S. Disabled Snow Sports Hall of Fame Award recognizes outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to adaptive snow sports (alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic and biathlon) in two categories: Recreational / Development and Competition. The Hall of Fame was created to honor individuals who have had an influential role in the field of disability sports as well as athletes who have excelled in adaptive sports.
The award in the Competition category recognizes an individual (athlete or coach), who has been active in international competition. Race results, team participation, innovative coaching techniques, and event promotions are considered for this category. Competitive racers and coaches must be retired from active racing or coaching for a minimum of three years prior to nomination.
Willie Stewart, from Boise, Idaho, is the 2018 honoree in the Competition category. In 1980, Stewart was an 18 year old undefeated high school wrestler working a summer construction job at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. A horrific construction accident cost him his left arm just below the shoulder and almost crushed his spirit. After rekindling his passion for sports on the rugby pitch, Stewart transformed himself into one of the most accomplished endurance athletes, including being the first and only disabled athlete to achieve Leadman recognition, the first above elbow amputee to kayak the Colorado River, and he is a four-time Hawaiian Ironman.
The three-time Paralympic athlete, who won a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Paralympic Games, previously ran the adaptive skiing program at Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center in Colorado. Several years ago, he also created the PossAbilities program at Loma Linda Medical Center.
The award in the Recreational / Development category recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field, including innovative techniques, specialized equipment, program development, education or public relations.
John Humbrecht, from Rollinsville, Colorado, was selected as the 2018 honoree in the Recreation/Development category. While in graduate school at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Humbrecht took on an extra project to develop adaptations for people with disabilities to better utilize existing computer interfaces. He also joined Rocky Mountain Rescue and had some interesting experiences with that organization. Humbrecht rose rapidly through the Ignite ranks eventually becoming the Ignite Snowsports Director in charge of training, safety, and technical direction.
He started making training videos and is working on a training video for Eldora Lift Operations, demonstrating how adaptive equipment and participants load and unload and what may be required of the lift operator. Humbrecht developed an online scheduling system, now being used by several sister adaptive organizations. He also developed a smartphone sensor app for those who have no feeling in extremities to alert them regarding temperature problems in those areas. It has helped a number of people avoid frostbite. Another aid he is developing is a pressure sensor device used for sit skiers that will alert them to areas of excessive pressure in sensitive areas.
“These two individuals, Willie and John, have done so much to advance the adaptive sports field. Willie has broken down barriers, redefined possibilities, and inspired and encouraged so many others. John has changed the lives of so many athletes through his instruction and technological developments,” said Glenn Merry, Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA. “We were honored to induct both of them into the Disabled Snow Sports Hall of Fame.” To learn more about the U.S. Disabled Snow Sports Hall of Fame, including a list of past award recipients, visit http://www.disabledsportsusa.org/sports/adaptive-sports-awards/disabled-snow-sports-hall-of-fame/.