Military to the Mountain allows 22 injured vets to ski and snowboard in Squaw Valley
SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. -- Thanks to Military to the Mountains which is a program created by High Fives Foundation, starting Monday March 12, a group of 22 veterans that have suffered life-altering injuries will be hitting the slopes for a week to ski and snowboard - activities they likely didn't think they'd be able to participate in after being injured.
This comes after having gone through a nine-week training program. During those nine weeks, 15 of the 22 vets trained at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas Texas, and the remaining seven trained with the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services staff and Double Diamond Athletic Club in Reno. The training was designed to physically prepare the vets for a week on the mountain, they were geared specifically toward skiing and snowboarding and for delivering personalized workouts to meet the needs of each vet's limitations.
Following the nine-week training, High Fives and Adaptive Training Foundation brought the 15 vets from Texas to Reno on flights hosted by American Airlines to meet up with the seven local vets. All 222 will then stay at the Village at Squaw Valley and ski at Squaw valley and Alpine Meadows with Achieve Tahoe adaptive ski program instructors.
All “on-hill” snow sports will be instructed by the professionals at Achieve Tahoe. The 22 veterans will be navigating the snow in multiple modalities based on injury. Some participants will be using mono-skis or bi-skis provided by Achieve Tahoe, some will be dawning “stand up” skis, boots and poles provided by K2 Sports and some will be on snowboards provided by the Squaw Valley Demo Shop.
Roy Tuscany, the executive director and co-founder of High Fives Foundation suffered a life-altering injury himself, paralyzing him from the waist down. After recovering from such an injury, and being able to participate in activities like skiing and snowboarding Tuscany, through High Fives, is able to provide resources for these injured vets. He believes that a life-altering injury shouldn't define a person, but rather be a part of the life they had before they were injured.
Steve Wallace is the Program Services Director for High Fives Foundation and he says one of his favorite parts of being a part of a cause like Military to the Mountain is seeing the vets smile as they see snow for the first time, and as they come down the slopes.
Mo Brossette is the director of the Recharge Program at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, and he says that as physical as the training is, a very big part of training is mental as well. He said that one of the most challenging parts of training these veterans is seeing the potential in them that they have not yet realized. He also said that he really enjoys being there when they "unlock that key" and see their capabilities and potential.
According to Jesse Murphy, the eastern development director at High Fives Foundation, if it weren't for resources provided by Squaw Valley, American Airlines, various donations and contributions and the equipment providers that not only provided equipment but also clothing to the vets, Military to the Mountain is a program that couldn't exist.
When Military to the Mountain concludes on March 17th, and the 22 US Veterans are met at Reno International Airport by a Large Honor Guard send off, it is the hope that each participant took something away from the program; whether it’s becoming physically stronger, finding a new love for snow sports, making a lifelong friend or sharing laughter with existing friends.
The resort will continue to provide a Silver Tahoe Super Pass to active duty military personnel, along with a note of appreciation and a challenge coin for a donation of $99, of which all proceeds support the Military to the Mountains program and Special Ops Survivors. Additional donations are also accepted at the resort on behalf of the organization. The donation amount will ensure that the Military to the Mountains program will both remain sustainable, and continue to grow, year after year, with the potential of offering multiple 10-week sessions in years to come.
The Military to the Mountain program is organized by the High Fives Foundation whose mission is to provide resources and inspiration to outdoor sports athletes who suffer life-altering injuries. Private contributions, corporate sponsors and funds raised through the sale of the Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows active military pass (raised $174,000 in 2017) make the program financial possible.