Dr. Scott Rains Realizes He Can Be A Ski Instructor Even Though He Can’t Walk

Editor’s Note: The real key to success is taking your disability and turning it into an advantage- it’s about what you can do, not what you cannot do. In the story of Dr. Scott Rains, a consultant on travel and disability, you’ll see that his wheelchair has become his marketing tool. Dr. Rains, “New Mobility” magazine’s Person of the Year, is known worldwide for opening up many countries, businesses and vacation sites to physically challenged individuals and has enabled these places to become more inclusive. Part 3 of a 5 part series.

Scott Rains has always been passionate about travel.

Scott Rains has always been passionate about travel.

I grew up in Seattle, Washington and spent a lot of time in the mountains hiking, camping and skiing before my injury. When I was 13, I had the opportunity to work at a ranch in Wyoming for two summers, and I enjoyed that a lot. Then my Spanish teacher invited me to join in an exchange student program in Guatemala, because I was doing well in Spanish. I had such a wonderful experience that I went after a scholarship to go to Brazil in 1971, but at the end of that school year, I was paralyzed.

Although I was only 17 when I became paralyzed. I was a teenager who already had traveled a good portion of the world, and then I found myself stuck in a wheelchair. I realized I wouldn’t fulfill my dream of being a ranch hand after I graduated from high school. The Sunday before I went into the hospital for my operation, I was approved as a ski instructor but didn’t learn about that approval until 2 weeks after my operation. I thought then, “Oh, this is great. I can be a ski instructor, but I can’t walk.” When I read the sentence on the letter that said, “By the way, I own a ski school, and I want you to be one of my instructors,” I started laughing hard. I began to think about what I really wanted to do with my life, and what I could do. I had 50% of my body that I couldn’t use, which meant that 50% of the things I wanted to do, I couldn’t do. Next I listed all the things that I could do, and the longer my list got, the more I realized that there were an infinite number of things I could do.

Scott Rains thinks about what he can do, not what he can't do.

Scott Rains thinks about what he can do, not what he can't do.

I decided, “Ok, even though I’m in a wheelchair, I’m going to live the rest of my life doing the things I can do. Perhaps I‘ll have to do them a little differently, however, I’m not going to worry about the things I can’t do.” I knew I couldn’t be a ski instructor, but I found out I could ride a zipline between one state and another state in Brazil. Since that time, I’ve been on all types of adventures in many other countries and really have enjoyed life.

I decided after my injury that for 10 years I wouldn’t leave this country. I got an undergraduate degree in linguistics. The languages I could speak were Spanish and Portuguese, but I also studied German, Italian and Tamil.

Scott rains is fluent in several languages. This must make it easy for him to make friends in other countries!

Scott Rains is fluent in several languages. This must make it easy for him to make friends in other countries!

After I got my undergraduate degree, I started a graduate program in linguistics, and I found that there really wasn’t a job that I was likely to get as a linguist. With that much study in language, I could have been a translator for the CIA, but they didn’t have much need for a translator, and traveling for me was difficult. That’s when I decided that I wanted to prove at least to myself that I still could travel. Once I learned there wasn’t a job I wanted to do in linguistics, I decided to stay in this country and work for non-profit organizations. I started my career in New York working for an organization called L’Arche, that helped disabled adults and people with Down Syndrome to live in group homes. I was running a household, cooking, cleaning and helping people get to their jobs. I also did some accounting.

Scott Rains wants an accessible world, where anyone can achieve great things.

Scott Rains wants an accessible world, where anyone can achieve great things.

I decided to go back to college and went to Santa Clara University for 6 years where I was a campus minister. I was invited to become the director of university ministries at Benedictine University outside of Chicago. Then I worked for a company called SeniorNet that set up free computer centers for senior adults. Most of my work was with technology and working with technology companies. However, while working for all of these different companies, I also started working in the field of travel and instability. Sometimes I’d work full time consulting on this issue, and at other times, I would only work part time. For the last 18 months, I’ve been working for Benetech, a non-profit company that creates accessible books for the people with print disabilities for a project called Bookshare. For the last 10 years, I’ve been working on travel and disability projects.

To learn more about Dr. Scott Rains, visit his blog.

Next: Dr. Scott Rains’ Success In Helping Others  

About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com

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One Response to Dr. Scott Rains Realizes He Can Be A Ski Instructor Even Though He Can’t Walk

  1. Jan MacFarlane says:

    Have you been to Europe and if so what is the accessability like? Particularly in France. Would like to go within the next year if possible. I broke mt back at 17 also. I am now 52 with a MA in Counseling psych. I lost my lower right leg 11 years ago and the resultant pain has taken away my ability to work. I am looking to write now, which seems within my crasp, but thinks like zip lines and base jumping have always appealed to me. I never slowed down until the pain took me down and I am trying to regain my life but i have lost so much it is a long struggle without much support. So, I am thinking of just running off like I used to do. at 21 I traveled up pch to vancover and across canada to Quebec then down the east coast to FL and around the bottom to Hom in Souther California. I have been camping in ensenada and staying 1/2 way up the volcano on Maul with a friend. Then I got married , had kids , slowed down.. but we still went camping to Joshua tree and the sierras. My young daughters and I would drive over to Las Cruses New Mexico every spring to their uncle’s ranch. After, i lost my rt foot/shin, i did not travel farther than the doctors office or work. Neuropathis sucks. I seem to be stabilizing on the meds they have me on and would like to give traveling a go again. Let me know what you do about Europe if anything. Not that interested in south Amarica. Thank You, jan

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