Kanya Sesser’s sit ski dreamFebruary 26, 2023
Let’s help Kanya Sesser keep shredding …
Story by Kimberly Corrigan – Cover Photo by Trent Wittenbach
Kanya Sesser got where she is today from her passion for sports … and snow.
“I love snow sports and love the snow. When I was younger, I would go out in the snow for hours without a jacket. I would be out there until late at night until my mom told me to come in from playing in the snow,” Sesser said.
“I’m from Portland, Oregon. You can do anything on the coast and out West. I grew up very blessed with how much outdoor nature there was around me. I had Timberline, Mount Hood, and Bend where people were very active in snow sports. I was able to connect with people who knew of organizations with resources for people with a disability,” she added.
Sesser was born without legs, and her motto is “No Legs, No Limits.” She started skateboarding when she was nine years old, and recently competed in the X Games.
“Shriner’s Hospital connected me with Oregon Adaptive Sports(OAS) in order to play wheelchair basketball with them on a team called the Seattle Sonics team and the Blazers Wheelchair Team. They were able to connect me to other people who did mono skiing at Timberline, Hoodoo, and in Bend Oregon,” Sesser said.
Sesser added, “My first mono ski was the Yeti. I remember that time because not having legs there has to be a balance with your mono ski. I was borrowing mono skis and I was only eleven or twelve at the time trying them out. At first they put me in a bi ski, which was enjoyable but I felt like I was just sitting there being pushed around. It was fun but I wanted to feel like an independent woman. I’ve been an independent woman since day one.”
Sesser said, “I tried the mono ski and of course I don’t have legs and every other piece of equipment I had tried needed legs or feet so I didn’t get the full-on experience. We literally had to put a block of something where the legs should be and tie it up and duct tape it, and it wasn’t that fun.”
Hence, Sesser’s desire for her very own mono ski. She has been saving for months.
“The mono ski is meant to be fit for you. I wanted that feel of true 100% performance. I saw all these people racing down the hill and it looked so fun, especially to be around other mono skiiers and ski down the slopes together,” she said.
Sesser said, “Before I always needed to have an instructor with me as I couldn’t independently push the mono ski up the slope. I never got the true satisfaction of how to be independent on the mono ski. It’s the freedom of independence.”
A mono ski, the DynAccess Hydra Light, ranges up to $8k for the main, middle, part and a customized seat or “bucket.” The bucket is crucial as it’s custom fit to the individual rider.
Sesser reflected on how her mom has been there from the beginning, “My mom made a website and would send letters to all the fans and donors to let them know how I was doing in competitions. She was also spending money of her own to get me where I am today. All the way from track races.”
Sesser continued, “It’s hard to get sponsors to pay for your travel. Everything was funding for my track chair. My basketball wheelchair, tennis wheelchair, etc. were all borrowed from Oregon Adaptive Sports.”
Sesser has always been very committed to the adaptive sports world, and “loves anything that is action oriented and different.”
“That’s why I always wanted my own mono ski,” she said. “Because I actually wanted to feel the mountains … Enjoy the mountains. I’ve always loved nature and in California we are blessed with great weather. I travel to the northwest a lot and my own equipment will provide that opportunity. Winter keeps drawing me back to the mountains,” Sesser said.
Project Roar has been a large part of Sesser’s success. A nonprofit organization dedicated to reimagining the way the world sees outdoor recreation for adaptive individuals. They build and fund custom equipment and adventure experiences for athletes who identify with disabilities, mobility difference, limb difference and mobility aid.
They helped Sesser get her own snowboard.
“Just because I don’t have legs and have been born differently, doesn’t mean anything stops us. Jacob McBride, co-founder of Project Roar has no arms or legs. Dani Lipsky, co-founder, industrial designer, and former snowboard instructor has been manufacturing different types of molds. She made my snowboard. She also created a knob for people with disabilities so they can rock climb. I am so honored I was chosen as the second ambassador for Project Roar. I am so grateful to them,” Sessor said.
Sesser’s career highlights include adaptive skating for Team USA where she took second and got invited to the 2019 X Games. She hopes to compete in adaptive skateboarding during the 2024 Paralympics in Paris. The USA Adaptive Skateboarding Team is her main goal.
Sesser said, “There will be many people who will accept you and want you but there will always be people who will deny you and not want you. And when this happens, it’s okay. Not everyone is going to like you. You just have to keep moving forward and know that it’s not you, it just wasn’t meant for you and that there will be better things coming your way for the right reasons no matter what.”
The most important part is to never give up your worth based on what others see in you, never give up on what you do just because someone doesn’t want you to be the best version of yourself each day rather than comparing yourself towards others.– Kanya Sesser
“We have this crazy, wild, uncertain but beautiful, mysterious life that isn’t always guaranteed but this is for certain, do what you love, be grateful, appreciate the little things, understand that you are here for a reason that the good and even the bad has a purpose on earth and never fear of the unknown, to be conscious of what you take in and to be open minded of possibilities,” Kanya continued. “Understand that our minds are so powerful that energy moving across the synapses of your neurons has the potential to revolutionize your life. That’s why you never want to waste the precious time to take a moment to breathe, see, smell, feel, smile, touch and live, help others find that energy and share it. There are many souls but at the end of the day we’re just all one,” she said.
If you’d like to make a contribution to Kanya Sessor’s cause, donate online HERE.
… come meet Kanya in Telluride Mountain Village for her fundraiser Sunday, March 5th at 5:30 PM Telluride Distilling Company Tasting Room in Mountain Village, complete with live music and a silent auction.
Sunday, March 5 • 5:30pm-9:30pm
Silent auction …
Live music by local bands …
Loot Booty – 6pm • Telluride Gold Kings – 7:30pm
A free event • donations accepted
Check Out Project Roar
Making Epic Adventure Possible For Everyone