By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO February 6, 2004 Sullivan County may have a participant in the International Paralympics in 2010.
Jessica Nesin, the 9-year-old daughter of Eugene and Ellen Nesin of Monticello, has been training to be a world-class disabled skier.
Jessica was born with a medical condition known as PFFD and has a shattered femur, for which she wears an above-knee prosthesis.
She was discovered by Mav Kimauara while skiing in the Poconos in December. Kimauara saw the potential in her, and invited Jessica to attend the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Colorado. The center is the largest outdoor therapeutic agency in the country, according to Ellen Nesin, a former teacher in the Monticello Central School District.
A few weeks ago, Jessica attended the camp, where she worked on running gates and ski courses, and raced in the Huntsman Cup. She finished in fourth place in the Huntsman Cup, a slalom event held at an Olympic-sized mountain near Salt Lake City, Utah. The event featured skiers who were much older than her. The skier closest to Jessicas age was 14 years old.
In order for Jessica to continue her training at the center, she will need approximately $15,000 a year to pay for the ski program, lodging and food. While the center will pay for part of the cost, her parents are looking for help from the community. All contributions are tax deductible.
Jessica skis with two special outriggers to maintain her balance, and only uses one ski.
Her program would consist of four separate two-week stints of training at the center each year.
Ellen Nesin said there is a warm-up gym, recovery gym, stretchout for muscles, discs for balancing, medicine ball . . . and she gets support from other children with disabilities.
Students from all around the world train at the center. Jessica would be able to learn from them, as well as skills like waxing her skis and sharpening her edges.
All of the young people involved in the program must maintain at least a B average in school. They are allotted two hours a day for their homework.
We are proud of her, Ellen Nesin said. We would like people to be more aware of the fact that because a child is disabled, doesnt mean that they cant excel in sports.
She will go on as far as she can, added Eugene Nesin, a 25-year member of the Monticello Central School Board of Education. We arent going to push her.
Eugene noted that none of the money donated would help his wife. As her daughters chaperone on the trips to Colorado, Ellen Nesin will pay for her own lodging and bills.
Jessicas skiing ability is so good that Ellen Nesin said she cant keep up with her daughter on the slopes.
She keeps up with me, almost, said Eugene Nesin, a member of the ski patrol at Holiday Mountain.
Anyone who wishes to help Jessica Nesin can send a donation to National Sports Center for the Disabled, PO Box 1290, Winter Park, CO 80482
The donation should be sent with a cover letter explaining that it is for Jessica Nesin.