Cancer and rare muscular disease don't stop this girl from skiing

Teenager trades in her wheelchair for a ski bike.

ByMichael Koenigs and Randy Williams
March 07, 2017, 2:11 PM

— -- Kati Leasure might be the least likely skier in Winter Park, Colorado.

The 15-year-old girl has a genetic muscular disease, but it hasn’t kept her from hitting the slopes.

With the help of her sister Amy and a team of volunteers from the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), Kati swaps her wheelchair for a ski bike.

I joined her recently on the mountain for her first run of the day as she stabilized herself on the “bunny slopes.” It wasn’t long before she demanded to be taken to the top of the mountain.

“I like to go fast,” Kati said.

“We didn’t think she’d ever bounce back,” her mother, Jennifer, said.

There is no cure for ataxia telangiectasia, a neurological disorder that breaks down the body’s immune system. Patients are “frequently wheelchair-bound by their teens, and the disease is generally fatal to patients by the time they reach their twenties,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

Not only has Kati survived, however, she’s also managed to pick up a few additional sports along the way.

She discovered a love for kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, snorkeling and skiing along the way.

“A kid in a wheelchair sliding down a mountain,” her mom said. “It’s awesome.”

By the end of the day, I could barely keep up.

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