You're guiding a young blind girl on cross country skis, as you head into the blizzard.
She can barely see – frankly, neither of you can.
She barely speaks all day. She is one cool customer. Clearly she doesn’t really need your help.
She is headstrong – just like you were at that age.
She doesn’t want to touch - even though it’s part of your role as a guide for a child with limited sight.
At the end of the day, after sharing a blizzard together, Chloe buries you, neck deep in snow – and you laugh like there’s no tomorrow.
That’s the moment.
You accidentally became friends.
Snow boarding with a teenager.
Riding the ups and downs of life - and slopes - at Mount Hood Meadows.
Casey has places to go - he wants to be a mechanical engineer.
He’s so cool on a board, he carries a sound system in his backpack and rides with killer tunes.
He just happens to be visually impaired.
Technically I am his guide – but there’s an obvious question of who's guiding whom.
I’m decades past being a teenager.
I am a teenager all over again.
Sometimes it’s hard to talk about that which moves you most inside.
That moment when you are there for someone.
The moment you first become friends – when you really click. When you really help them – or they really help you.
Your heart holds that most meaningful moment - like a secret - deep inside.
It’s that postcard moment you never forget.
So hard to put into words.
Finding meaning through volunteering.
In that moment your life has purpose. When you give just a little, you get so much more back.
That moment you earn friendship from someone who doesn’t make friends easily.
I am proud to volunteer as a guide for students at Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB).
Every year I meet up with the kids in the snow at Mount Hood Meadows ski resort for blind ski nights – and their annual Teacup Lake cross country skiing retreat.
And then, there was the postcard moment - the day we met.
The dogs and I met the kids at Washington School For The Blind several years ago, while trick or treating in Vancouver, WA.
I had three dogs on a surfboard in pirate costumes, rolling down the streets in our Surf dog mobile. We ran into the kids, who were headed back to their Halloween party with Adrienne, the school’s volunteer coordinator.
And we all went back to the historic 1800’s school building together.
The place had a teeny tiny elevator - but somehow the kids crammed the surf dog mobile inside.
The 9’5”surfboard wouldn’t fit, so they carried it up several flights of stairs.
We all made it up to the top floor where the party was.
That’s when blind kids discovered I had a blind dog on a surfboard.
And the rest just fell into place.
Several years later - a Braille letter arrived in the mail - just recently.
I’d just lost two of my dogs to old age – including my blind son, Dude.
Words can’t express what this letter means to me. Every time I pick it up, my eyes fill with tears.
Another postcard moment about how giving back really matters.
And how giving back is a two way street.