Paralympian Speaks

Lacey Heward likes exceeding expectations.

When she was six, a barbell fell on her and crushed her spine, paralyzing her from the waist down.

“Growing up in a wheelchair, you get a lot of looks. People put their hands on their knees and look at you and say, ‘How are you doing today?'” Heward said, describing the condescending way some people approach her disability.

Regardless of not being able to walk, as a child, Heward could adapt to whatever activities her family participated in, such as camping and even horseback riding.

But not skiing.

Now, however, she’s a World Cup gold-medal-winning and 2002 Paralympic alpine skier.

Heward spoke to a crowd of about 65 people at Wednesday’s fair about her life, her sport and her athletic spirit.

The Paralympic Games parallel the traditional Olympics. The competing athletes have physical challenges, such as diminished mobility or sight, but the same spirit as Olympic athletes, Heward said.

The Paralympics are about “overcoming your challenge and just going for it,” she said.

Heward uses a mono-ski, a custom-made bucket seat atop a single ski with lateral poles for steering, which she straps herself into like a foot into a boot. It costs about $3,000. The expense entailed in mono skiing was an obstacle for her. At 15, she went door to door selling $1 raffle tickets to finance her equipment.

She decided she wanted to participate in athletic competitions while watching the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Her favorite event was running. Seeing the determination in the faces of athletes crossing the finish line made a profound impression upon her.

“I can do it. I know I can go for itm” she said, relating her feelings at the time.

Two years ago, the Idaho native moved to Orem and began training with the Park City Disabled Ski Team. Last March, she won a gold medal in a slalom course in the World Cup.

It was then the U.S. Ski Team asked her to join.

“It was no longer a pat on the back” at that point, Heward said. She had exceeded everyone’s expectation of her.

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