Local Wilderness School leader seriously injured in rock slide works to compete in Paralympics


EAST HARTLAND, Conn. (WTNH)– Nature and adventure are in Cassandra Grenier’s blood. It was only natural when she realized it could be a career.

“I need to do that,” said Grenier.

The 26-year old Meriden native studied recreation and Adventure therapy at Springfield College, landing a job working with at-risk youth at state-run Wilderness School.

“A lot of these young people have dealt with things that you know we wouldn’t wish upon anybody,” said Aaron Wiebe, Wilderness School, Director.

The Wilderness School not only takes referrals from the Department of Children and Families but also Juvenile Court, the schools, and the community. About 600 students a year participate in day-long program and about 20 students take part in a summer 20-day intensive adventure.

“It’s just so intrinsically rewarding,” said Grenier.

But summer 2017 would change her life. After 20 days of working with kids in nature, she joined her brother in Wyoming and set off to climb the middle mountain range at Grand Teton National Park.

“The entire rock slope above me just started to fall,” said Grenier.

Cassie was dodging rocks ranging in size from car tires to refrigerators, ultimately hiding behind one.

“Crouched in a ball and covered my head with my hands and just kind of stayed there as rocks fell over me,” said Grenier.

She suffered a traumatic brain injury and nearly lost her life. She was airlifted off the mountain and underwent months of surgeries.

All of her internal organs were damaged, her lungs collapsed, the bones in her face were shattered. Her neck fractured and skin scraped off her arms

“Just sobering,” said Grenier.

Cassie made a miraculous recovery. Almost everything except her vision remains in tact.

“It’s like tunnel vision and double,” said Grenier.

Now, She’s back in East Hartland doing the work she loves

“We’ve been lucky enough to be in a position to help make a difference in her life and now she’s making a difference in so many other peoples lives,” said Wiebe.

After the ordeal, Cassie also went from spending winters teaching people with disabilities to ski to becoming an athlete. She was named a national champion in visually impaired alpine skiing.

Now, she’s looking to earn a spot on the US National team and compete in the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing.

“I want it to be about something more. I don’t know what that more is yet but I don’t want it to be about me,” said Grenier.

To help Cassie raise money to compete in the 2022 Paralympics, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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