Brant Beach Native Aims to Snowboard into Paralympics

SHE PERSISTED: Ackers competes at the Dew Tour at Copper Mountain in Colorado, not significantly from her present house in Grand Junction. (Provided Photograph)
Extensive Beach front Island is situated shut enough to the mountains that, as a teen, Jenny Ackers could consider working day excursions from her house in Brant Beach front to ski resorts just a handful of hours’ generate absent. Ackers, now 36, started out snowboarding when a freshman in substantial faculty. It was in her senior 12 months, even though riding with buddies and relatives at Mountain Creek, in Vernon, that a further snowboarder crashed into her, producing a brachial plexus personal injury – specially a C5-C6 nerve avulsion – that intended a decline of motor and sensory features in her appropriate arm.
Ackers is the fifth of six young ones, a shut-knit bunch whose moms and dads each taught in the Southern Regional College District. She and her youthful sister, Anne Ackers-Cilley, had traveled to Mountain Creek with friends on the first day of winter season break in December 2003. On the past run prior to lunch, Ackers stopped to tinker with one of her bindings, then took off once more to catch up with the relaxation of her group.
At a trail merge, an out-of-handle snowboarder slammed into her from driving. “All of a sudden, I was on my back again on the slope wanting up,” said Ackers. She didn’t keep in mind the effects. The guy who’d strike her, and a medical professional who’d been skiing by, stopped to support.
“I assumed I was good,” Ackers remarked. “Obviously I lost consciousness and required to be checked out, and I don’t forget declaring that my leg hurt, but I did not feel something was mistaken with my arm. I just felt a minor sore just about everywhere.”
Ski patrol transported her down the mountain and urged her to go to the nearby hospital. Through the ambulance journey, the shock of the incident wore off. “By the time we obtained to the hospital, I was in agony,” Ackers recalled. “They slash my dresses off. I was below a slender blanket. I was shivering and passing in and out of consciousness. The tech held yelling at me to move my arm for the X-ray, but I could not. It was like telling me to go my tooth.”
The clinic knowledge was a little bit of a nightmare, to say the minimum. Ackers was above 18, so the workers didn’t want to enable a simply call to her mother and father (in this time just before cellphones were being commonplace) and they wouldn’t give her any medicine for the ache. Ackers-Cilley, nevertheless, demanded she be permitted to use the cell phone, and when their sister Megan Ackers Smith obtained to the clinic, she observed to it that Ackers was provided meds.
There was no health care provider at the clinic to examine scans when her parents arrived, Ackers was discharged with what the staff members said was a damaged wrist – and an admonition from the nurse to just offer with the discomfort.
She screamed all the way household. When she was eventually capable to get much better ache medicine, she proceeded to vomit for two times, and was in far too significantly suffering to even stroll.
Ackers’ mom and dad, Beth and Tom, took her to Southern Ocean Health care Center, in Manahawkin, where by personnel stabilized her, hydrated her and casted her soon after determining a cracked vertebra and scapula, and significant nerve destruction. They also advisable she see a specialist.
“All that time I was in the solid, I was pondering, I simply cannot transfer my arm,” claimed Ackers. “When they slash the forged off at SOMC, my arm just dropped.”
Ackers and her mom then stopped at the business of Dr. Richard Goldstein, who was capable get her an appointment with a sporting activities medicine health care provider. This doctor was the to start with to mention a brachial plexus injuries, but the subject was past his expertise. He recommended she test to see a expert at Shriners Hospitals for Young children in Philadelphia.
Ackers had to receive particular acceptance for Shriners, as the facility typically cares for all those underneath 18. There, she uncovered: “What I have, it can not be healed, due to the fact my nerves were pulled out from the interior of my spinal wire. The C5 and C6 nerves correspond with people vertebrae. (I also stretched the C7 nerve, but that one repaired itself.)
“It’s like unplugging a toaster and all the wiring comes out of the wall,” she ongoing. “The toaster by itself is high-quality, but electronics-intelligent, it is not going to perform. … The C5 and C6 nerves couldn’t be shoved again into my spinal wire.”
In April 2004, although, Ackers did have a nerve transfer surgical procedure whereby the harmed nerves were spliced jointly with some of the other operating nerves. This considerably served with her bicep, and she can now, for case in point, open a door, and “bring my hand to my encounter, type of,” she noted.
Her arm from her elbow up is most impacted. She cannot have her two young little ones – Sam and Cece – with her right arm, and she can’t raise a glass of drinking water to her mouth with that arm. She has some reduction of sensation in her fingers, but can nonetheless write with her correct hand her still left hand just has to help go the proper hand across the paper.
The timing of her surgical treatment coincided with Southern’s senior trip, so Ackers experienced to skip it. The damage also meant she skipped her very last period of significant school lacrosse, a sport she liked, captained and experienced hoped to play in university.
Having said that, “she experienced a very strong motivation not to allow her injury keep her again,” stated her brother, Brendan Ackers. “I’m absolutely sure she experienced moments when she was down, but she didn’t seriously let it display, and she was decided to keep residing her daily life.”
The summer season immediately after Jenny’s senior calendar year, she told Brendan and her father that she wished to surf with them on a day of overhead waves. They expressed some concern, and instructed she hold out for smaller sized surf.
“I was out there in the lineup,” Brendan recalled, “and I’m searching out at the waves. Then I search back, and there she is. I could not believe she was paddling out, as a result of set just after set, with a single arm.
“I was both of those impressed and terrified. But she created it out there,” he extra. “I knew then: She would be Okay.”
Southern Regional Center University English instructor Scott Cooper experienced Ackers in class when she was in seventh and eighth grade, years in advance of her injuries, and remembers her as “a truly hardworking and really inventive pupil.” Just about every course of his considering the fact that, he mentioned, is tasked with reading through a hilarious research paper-as-story Ackers wrote about a mathematician.
Cooper acquired about Ackers’ harm from her mom, as they the two labored in the middle school, and now he also employs his former student’s true-everyday living story in his classes. He exhibits the young ones photos of Ackers whitewater rafting, racing in the 18 Mile Run, browsing and skydiving. Then he clarifies her damage, and he emphasizes, “It doesn’t keep her from undertaking nearly anything.”
And here the pupils study that proverbial phrase of optimism: “When everyday living gives you lemons, you make lemonade.”
As significantly as lemons go, Ackers experienced to swap training course a bit when faculty conclusion time came, as lacrosse was off the desk, and, she said, “I imagined a more compact school would be easier with my harm.”
Her initial semester at St. Bonaventure College, in Allegany, N.Y., began – and Ackers recognized how much she skipped crew sports. She observed a flyer for the women’s rugby crew, and that was that. Ackers ended up getting one particular of the fastest and toughest people on the team, enjoying still left wing so she could catch with her still left arm.
She played all four a long time, and was the top scorer and captain as a senior, when the staff put second in the condition. “And the medical professional at Shriners explained I could not harm my arm any even worse,” explained Ackers, so she was not involved about the physicality of the activity.
During her time at St. Bonaventure, Ackers also obtained again on a snowboard. Her harmony was a minor off at very first, and she had to determine out what form of bindings were best for her to use, but it didn’t just take very long for it all to click yet again. Following graduation, she moved to Colorado, and ongoing to ride, and to instruct snowboarding as perfectly.
She took a couple of many years off from using to get started a relatives with her husband, Mark Verber, and to temperature the pandemic. Then, very last summer time, she read on the radio that the group of women’s higher limb impairment would be included for the 2026 Paralympics. She achieved out to the Paralympics feeder software, and soon fulfilled up at Copper Mountain – not much from her property in Grand Junction, Colo. – with Paralympics medal-winner Amy Purdy and her partner, Dan Gale, of Adaptive Motion Sports.
Ackers began teaching with Purdy and Gale, and, previous weekend, she took aspect in adaptive competitors at the Dew Tour, held at Copper. The Dew Tour is not a Paralympics-sanctioned function (as it is for U.S. Snowboarding and Snowboarding) so it’s additional an exhibition, rather than any form of qualifier, for those in the adaptive contests.
Ackers desires to continue on to contend whenever possible, and ultimately make it to the Planet Cup phase – and then, to the Paralympics.
“Jenny has constantly impressed me with her capacity to persevere,” claimed her sister Amy Schlippert. “I assume a ton of folks in her placement would say, ‘Well, I just can’t do this for the reason that of my incapacity,’ but she has hardly ever allow that cease her. Jenny has continued to surf, rock climb and snowboard, regardless of only acquiring the use of one particular completely operating arm. Now add in that she is a mother of two smaller small children, is operating on her graduate diploma (in occupational remedy) and is schooling for the Paralympics it is just unbelievable.”
Kelly O’Halloran, whom Ackers met at St. Bonaventure, concurred: “If anyone can do it, it is Jennifer C. Ackers. The female has never ever enable just about anything cease or slow her down, and that is specially true when it will come to levels of competition. She’s an unbelievable athlete and competitor that I had the pleasure of witnessing firsthand for the duration of our time as adaptive snowboard instructors and playing recreational soccer collectively throughout college or university.
“Quite basically, she’s a total badass as a human, as a competitor and as a mother. I’ll be rooting for her as normally from our dwelling in Texas!”
Katie Ackers-Schrock, the oldest of the 6 Ackers siblings, said she “wasn’t the least bit stunned when Jennifer mentioned she was hoping to sign up for the 2026 Paralympic Crew. She has often finished matters her very own way. Which is what I enjoy most about her.
“It was most likely the scariest working day of our lives observing her wounded in the medical center and not knowing what the potential would hold. But Jennifer has in no way once allow her harm outline or halt her. I am so proud that she’s my sister and could not be happier for her. I have no doubt she’ll thrive.”

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