Ski Instructor’s Biggest Lesson: 'I Want To Live' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Ski Instructor’s Biggest Lesson: 'I Want To Live'

MT. SPOKANE, Wash. - Ski instructor Scott Hackney has hit the slopes for 30 years, and in that time, he's been through quite a bit.

But it's the lessons he's learned that are so inspiring.

He served in the Army during the first Gulf War, overcome a battle with alcohol, has been on two expeditions to the Himalayas, and is spending three weeks this summer in the Grand Canyon.

But there's one thing he can't do: use his hands.

"I'm fighting a terminal disease," he told KHQ. "I'm fighting ALS."

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  It's a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain.  He was formally diagnosed a year ago, but began to notice cramps in his forearms and legs in 2004.  

"Then in 2009, I noticed the muscle [between my thumb and first finger] in my hand had disappeared. That's when I said, ‘Scott, there's something seriously wrong with you.'"

It turns out, Hackney has been fighting ALS for 9 years, and it's a battle he's winning right now.

"Most people are in a wheelchair at 1-3 years, and dead at 5.  Not me," Hackney said.

So far, he's only lost the use of his hands. He can't write a check, hold ski poles, or dress himself very easily, but he can ski and he can teach.

Wednesday afternoon, KHQ cameras followed Hackney as he gave a lesson to 10-year-old Ashlyn L'Kert atop Mt. Spokane.

"I think he really helped me learn how to turn better," L'Kert said after the lesson.

Hackney told KHQ he does sometimes have to make modifications; for instance, if a student needs to use poles, he'll grab another instructor who can model how to hold them. But, Hackney adds, he doesn't know how to quit, and nothing – not even ALS – will keep him from the slopes.

"We've already buried my younger brother, many years ago," he added. "And I don't want [my parents] to bury another child.  It's not going to happen."

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