Danille Posner looks like any normal, 20-year old college coed. According to her dad (and the picture below), she's adorable. Dying was not on her agenda that December day in Beaver Creek, Colorado, but life often has plans for us that take us by surprise.
Danielle's dad, Wally and I have mutual friends in common, but don't really know each other all that well. I met Wally the other day at a Starbucks in Deerfield (IL) and he seems like a great guy, thoughtful and sincere.
In a recent issue of the Vail Daily READ IT HERE , Wally describes the events that befell Danielle and her family on what was supposed to be a fun-filled, exciting day of snowboarding at Beaver Creek.
In his article, Wally describes Beaver Creek as quaint, something with which I would take exception. To me, Beaver Creek is like an open air Woodfield Mall at the bottom of a big hill.
That's just my opinion, though and is in no way germane to this story.
What Wally and I can both agree isn't quaint, however is the Ski Patrol, always at the ready in Beaver Creek and across America's ski slopes. As Wally says in his piece in the Vail Daily, however courageous you think you are, you may never understand the meaning of courage until you see the Ski Patrol in action.
Unquestionably, Lindsey Vonn is an Olympic hero, as is upstart Mikaela Schiffrin, who may be gently nudging Ms. Vonn out of the Alpine spotlight. The unsung heroes of the sport, though are the men and women of the Ski Patrol. They are out there in the worst conditions mother nature can throw at us and they are ready to respond in an instant.
The Ski Patrol is skiing's first responders. They train hard and take their jobs seriously, arriving on skis (and snowboards) and they do it for a ski pass and the use of a cool jacket. (They don't even get to keep the jackets.)
As she prepared for a snowboard lesson that day, Danielle Posner suffered a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD). It could have happened to anyone and it could have happened anywhere. In this instance, Danielle was in the right place at the right time. According to her doctors, it was only the quick actions of the Ski Patrol that saved her life.
Had Danielle been reading a book at home, on her couch, the outcome could have been much different.
In Wally's re-telling of the events of that day, you can feel the horror that he felt as he watch the vibrancy of his daughter slip away, lifelessness overtaking her young body. The situation was about as dire as it can get and the gratitude and appreciation for the life of their daughter and sister is deep and genuine in the Posner family.
Most of the calls responded to by the Ski Patrol involve much less serious injuries. Sprained ankles, broken collar bones and an assortment of accidental and self-induced wounds make up the majority of their work.
We experienced an incident last month that didn't turn out so well, when one of our friends, also skiing at Beaver Creek was taken off the hill after a collision with a snowboarder.
Witnesses said the the snowboarder crashed into our friend, Jeff, causing him to lose consciousness. To his credit, the snowboarder called 9-1-1, but then he fled.
Jeff is currently in a rehab facility in Aurora, CO and it's not yet known if he will regain movement below his chest.
They do what they can, our friends in the red jackets, and their efforts run from the mundane to the heroic.
I used to joke that I wished I knew where I was going to die. Asked why, I would reply that I would stay the hell away from that place.
It turns out, dying in the right place can be a good thing.
Now that life has returned to normal for Danielle Posner, Wally would like to pay it forward and find a way to recognize and help victims of SCAD. On July 26, Wally and a few brave souls are riding their bicycles from Chicago to Beaver Creek to raise money for, and awareness of this silent and swift killer.
To read more about Wally's ride and to find ways to help out, PLEASE READ HERE.
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