For most kids learning to ski takes time. It can take many trips down the hill before things click.
For Yorke Parkin, a 13-year-old athlete from Revelstoke, the journey from the bunny hill to the top of the mountain was extra difficult and equally inspiring.
Yorke lives with Noonan Syndrome (NS), a mostly unknown genetic disorder that affects each person differently. The bumps and bruises gathered on the road to the moguls were even more severe for the young athlete, as his condition causes the lightest taps to leave his skin purple. Kids with the condition develop at a slower rate than their peers and have difficulty learning.
Despite all the extra challenges Yorke faces every day, his determination has led him to excel on skis and is now a role model for all athletes who want to overcome their disabilities.
Yorke competed in the Special Olympics BC Alpine Skiing Regional Qualifiers at Sasquatch Mountain in Chilliwack on March 13 and finished in first place in his category, ahead of athletes three and four times his age.
Athletes from across the province competed at the event for qualification for the 2023 Special Olympics BC Winter Games.
Revelstoke Special Olympics celebrated its first year with a ski program in the community thanks to Yorke according to Courtney Kaler, president of the local chapter.
Yorke has been skiing for about eight years and learned to ski through the Revelstoke Ski Club. His coach Katie Findlay, also signed up to be his Special Olympics coach.
“For a Revelstoke kid he started late,” said Bex Parkin, Yorke’s mother.
Yorke’s said his favourite part about skiing is going fast and hitting gates, and the young man loves to race. He added that at the Revelstoke Ski Club, he’s surrounded by high-octane, experienced, extreme athletes.
“I’m just Yorke,” he laughed.
After turning heads at Regionals, Yorke now looks ahead to the Provincial games in 2023.
According to the Noonan Syndrome Foundation, the condition is a variably expressed, multi-system disorder that occurs in 1 in 1,000 to 2,500 births. People with NS experience a wide variety of issues including heart defects, small stature and growth issues, learning disorders, an abnormally large distance between the eyes, unexplained chronic pain, skeletal malformations and much more.
Although the condition is common it requires multidisciplinary care and is managed comprehensively from person to person.
Typically by nine months old babies creep or crawl. When he was an infant, Yorke’s development was delayed and he required multiple trips to various specialists. At 18 months old, he had yet to start crawling and had a very difficult time holding himself up while sitting.
“I love watching him ski,” said Bex. “He couldn’t walk until he was two, he couldn’t even move at 18 months. To see him go this far and then go to compete and actually do this well, it’s like ‘oh my god’.”
“His dad and I are very proud.”
Special Olympics in Revelstoke returned to the community after an eight-year hiatus in 2014. They offer a growing list of sports and activities such as swimming, bocce, five-pin bowling, curling, club fit and floor hockey to individuals of varying disabilities.
Courtney Kaler believes that Yorke’s story will inspire others in the community to push their limits and get involved with the ever-growing local program.
They are always looking to evolve according to Kaler, and are actively looking for board members and volunteers. They are hoping more athletes and coaches sign up for the program to help expand the number of sports they can offer in the community.
To learn more about how to get involved with Revelstoke Special Olympics visit specialolympics.ca/british-columbia/communities/revelstoke.
Yorke celebrates his 14th birthday this month (April) and looks forward to enjoy a summer of mountain-biking and relaxing after school is finished.
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