Danelle Umstead

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Imagine hurtling down a steep ski mountain at over 70 mph virtually blind, relying solely on the verbal commands of a guide to navigate the icy, snow-covered terrain. Welcome to Danelle Umstead’s everyday office. Now a 3-time Paralympic medalist, Danelle is one of the most successful visually impaired ski racers in history, and remarkably, she didn’t start skiing until she was 29 and had long since lost most of her vision. As Danelle says, “I didn’t grow up on the slopes, but I was reborn there!”


At age 13, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic, degenerative eye condition that eventually causes blindness. For most of her life, she relied on her mother to be her eyes but tragically lost her to cancer in 2001. Danelle was devasted and isolated like never before. Her father first introduced her to skiing in hopes of rekindling her spirit. From the moment she felt the rush of cold mountain air against her face and the snow beneath her skis, she was hooked, and a lifetime of daredevil adventure began. Danelle met her husband Rob on the slopes and married him there as well, literally, on skis. With Rob as her ski guide, they formed Team Vision For Gold, and together, they have traveled the world as part of the U.S. Ski Team, “Living The Impossible,” as Danelle calls it. In 2010, after winning her first Paralympic medal, Danelle was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an unpredictable and disabling disease of the central nervous system. Determined to continue living a “Yes I can!” lifestyle, she continued with competitive skiing and has maintained her position as one of the top racers in the world ever since. Never afraid of a challenge, Danelle starred on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, becoming the show's first blind contestant in its 27-season history.


Danelle has shared her remarkable story and the life lessons she has uncovered along the way to countless corporations, professional organizations, charities, sports groups, and schools across the country. Her keynote address, “Living Your Impossible” shares the inspiring story of losing her vision, losing her mother, and discovering her life passion through which she found healing, her husband, and a lifetime of high-speed adventure. During her presentation, Danelle speaks about

  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Creativity & Problem Solving
  • Elite Performance


In an emotional rollercoaster of powerful storytelling, Danelle takes her audiences onto the slopes to hear and feel authentic audio communication from one of her Paralympic medal-winning races. It's a presentation no one will forget- Danelle takes audiences from tears to cheers, redefining what it means to be disabled and inspiring actionable takeaways audience members can apply to their own lives. 

Danelle Umstead's Experiences

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