WILDWOOD, Mo. – After a hard climb, there's nothing like coming downhill. Helping skiers with both the ups and the downs at Hidden Valley is Pam Weber.
"The cool thing about skiing is that it levels the playing field," she explained.
Whether you're 8 or 80, you're welcome in Pam's classroom but there's one group in Pam's heart.
"These guys are amazing," she said smiling.
For the last 30 years, Pam has been the instructor for The Gateway Disabled Ski Program and Special Olympics.
"I came out here skiing with my kids one day and somebody said we need help with the Special Olympics, can you help? And I was hooked," she said with a laugh.
Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities. But disability doesn't mean inability.
"My son Brian only had a 50/50 chance to live," Maureen Williams told us. "He's going to be 50 years old."
Brian Williams was one of Pam's first students and he's become quite an accomplished skier.
"I have three bronze medals," he said proudly.
"You know you see the smiles on their faces and it doesn't make a difference if it's an able-bodied person or someone with a disability, it's just enlightening," Weber said.
And the enlightenment almost never happened.
While raising her three kids, Pam and her husband would take annual trips to Colorado. At first, she was luke-warm about the cold sport but then she had her ah-ha moment.
"I got off the lift at the top of Keystone and there was this magnificent scenery and it was like this is why you're going to learn, "she recalled.
She's been Schussing ever since.
At 72, an age when many are enjoying retirement, Pam Weber renews her commitment. She gets re-certified as an instructor every year.
"Oh, Pam is amazing. She is so energetic and she cares about our children, "says mom Donna Ringling.
And never was the commitment more apparent than a few years ago when Pam herself became disabled. She lost her hearing completely and needed surgery to get cochlear implants.
"If you want to keep living, you want to go on with your life, you just do," she exclaimed.
Not all classrooms have walls and some ski instructors teach more than skiing.
"You know it makes much more of a difference in my life than I make in theirs," said Weber.
Pam Weber. She wears skis and boots but the most important part of her equipment is her heart.
"She is just unreal," added Maureen Williams.