Our StoryWho we are, what we do, and a bit of history.
Who We Are…
Northeastern Pennsylvania Regional Ski for Light and Sports for Health is a regional affiliate of Ski for Light International. (Friends call us NEPA Regional or NEPA SFL-SFH.) Our purpose is assisting visually impaired individuals to participate in, and enjoy, a variety of outdoor activities in both the winter and summer.
We are a small group of 30-or so adults who gather in a casual atmosphere to enjoy indoor and outdoor activities, as well as each other’s friendship. All activities are available to all participants, and are located in or around the facility.
The NEPA Sports for Health program was started in 1979, and the NEPA Ski for Light program in 1982. On 16 October 2000, NEPA SFL/SFH was Incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania as a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization. Our purpose as stated in the Articles of Incorporation is “to arrange and coordinate recreational sports and related activities that bring sighted and blind individuals together in an effort to enable blind individuals to participate in and experience such activities that may require sighted assistance.” The motto of Ski for Light is “If I can do this, I can do anything.”
We are an all volunteer organization with both guides (sighted) and participants (vision impaired or blind) paying their own way. The management of the organization consists of a ten member Board of Directors. Board members are guides and participants chosen from both programs.
NEPA SFL History
In 1964, a blind Norwegian singer, entertainer, and skier Erling Stordahl organized a cross-country ski event for the blind in the mountains of Norway. A blind or visually impaired skier was paired with a sighted skier for a 25 K race. This became known in Norway as the “Ridderrennet”. In 1975, the program was brought to the U.S. and given the name “Ski for Light”. The Sons of Norway organization adopted this new idea, and helped organize the first program which was held in Summit County, CO. Since then, Ski for Light International has become an annual event, taking place in different parts of the country, with participants from the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
Interest was expressed in creating a regional ski program. In 1982, on the suggestion of Mary Ellen Brosnan, a blind participant from New York City, a week of Ski for Light was established, and “Ski for Light, North East Pennsylvania Regional” was born.
NEPA SFH History
The very first Sports for Health program was held in 1979. Activities were varied; tandem bicycling, hiking, fitness course, swimming and more, all performed by a blind participant with a sighted guide. The program became an annual event.
Land of the Vikings
Land of the Vikings (LOV) was the cultural and recreational center of the Sons of Norway – District Three. Land of the Vikings is located on 150 acres in a peaceful valley in Northeastern Pennsylvania and is surrounded by 5000 acres of state game land. For more than 30 years, LOV had been the site of NEPA Regional Ski For Light and Sports For Health events.
Sons of Norway – District Three could no longer sustain LOV operations and was going to shutter the lodge mid summer 2020. The impact of government mandated shutdowns brought about by the pandemic in early 2020 hastened the closing and canceled all activities.
With heavy hearts we bid farewell to a treasured venue. But we will recall with fondness the picturesque landscape, rustic charm, and wonderful memories of shared activities in the lodge and on the surrounding trails.