By Shell Lessen

Big Bear Lake, California obviously does not measure up in size to the monstrous metropolis of nearby Los Angeles. But it’s a giant of joy for many disabled people who find kindness, understanding and fun, while learning ways to cope with very serious physical problems.

Making this all happen since 1983 is the United States Adaptive Recreation Center at Big Bear.

For the fun of it

USARC provides outdoor recreation activities winter and summer. Each program is laid out and operated by trained full-time experts as well as highly skilled volunteers. They work with injured men, wounded warriors and women as well as children of all ages. The results are often remarkable.

For example, one volunteer ski instructor has taught USARC visitors in need for 21 years and has been a member of The Professional Ski Instructors of America just as long. His name is Ray LoCascio.

A dream come true

Among Ray’s many successes is the work he has done with a determined teenage girl fighting ambulatory disability while setting her hopes on earning a degree in child development. Not only did hope become reality along the way, she became a star pupil on the ski slopes of Bear Mountain Resort.

As Ray sees it, “this girl’s achievements are the result of training based on aid and instruction given individually to children and adults at USARC. Moreover, we urge them to practice their chosen activity with maximum strength.”

“When following these suggestions, chances are better in winter or summer that they will find themselves enjoying what they’re doing beyond expectations. With an attitude this positive, the skier or anyone else in training here often begins to feel that “if I can do this, I can do anything.”

Take your pick

“That word-‘anything’ at USARC also stands for the fact that a wide variety of health-promoting activities are available. They range from Bi-skiing for beginners, to out rigging, jet skiing, paddle boarding as well as warm-weather sailing, fishing, and kayaking.”

Among this past winter’s visitors Ray and fellow instructors welcomed a number of skiers who were faced with giving up the sport completely.

Vicious enemies

They suffer this sad situation because they have extremely serious disabilities in the class of Brain and Spinal cord injuries, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis.

Yet there is reason for hope. Good reason. To support the battle against these and other misfortunes this past winter, Ray volunteered to teach USARC trainers the in’s and outs of working with Sit Ski.

Why pay particular attention to Sit Ski equipment?

Why not?

Sit Ski includes a specially designed bucket seat that is suspended above either one or two skis. Due to this exceptional Sit Ski arrangement, most impaired skiers are able to make vital accurate turns using the upper body. This puts skiing in sight for many and gives satisfaction to Ray LoCascio.

Surprise Surprise

Ray is a man who in his own words grew up wanting to be of help regularly to people in need but lacking enough self-confidence to give it a try. “It wasn’t until I entered California State Fullerton University that I began to gain confidence,” he explained.

After graduation he took his first steps toward guiding others closer to better lives. He discovered Hypnosis.

Having chosen his ideal career, Ray went to work, determined to convert the dreams and words to action and satisfaction.

Today Ray LoCascio C.Ht. heads a thriving private practice of hypnotherapy.

Many ask what is Hypnosis?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hypnotherapy is “a trans-like state of altered consciousness that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject or any conditions that resemble sleep.”

Problems range from fear of flying, sleeping problems and weight management… to lowering anesthesia and pain medication requirements… which can frequently shorten and reduce discomfort time and their need for drugs.

How does Ray fit in?

“I am here to help those who need to learn to relax, change unwanted habits, build self-esteem and achieve their goals, while enabling them to enjoy and experience life without unnecessary challenges.”

Missions accomplished!