PHOTO: Military to the Mountains participants arriving at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for the ski portion of the 2017 Military to the Mountains Program. Photo credit: Chris Bartowski of Generikal Design
Olympic Valley, Calif., April 11, 2017 -- Experiencing a life-altering injury in the name of duty for the United State Military comes with two forms of pain — physical and emotional.
The High Fives Foundation in Truckee, California, the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in Reno, Nevada, and the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, Texas teamed up to host a program called Military to the Mountains. 22 injured US Military Veterans (15 from the Dallas area and seven from the Reno area) were trained at their respective facilities for nine weeks, preparing them for a week of skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, Calif. from April 3 to April 9, 2017. The Veterans were instructed by Achieve Tahoe adaptive ski program.
“The City of Reno is stoked to be a part of this inspiring program,” said April Wolfe, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. “The motivated group of Veterans put the work in and supported each other to get physically and mentally prepared for an epic week on snow.”
“The goal of the program is to offer wounded war-fighters an opportunity to tap back into their physicality by pushing through mental and physical barriers,” said David Vobora, Founder and CEO of the Adaptive Training Foundation. “Experiencing the mountains for the first time post-injury redefines their limits and ignites new passion to take ridge lines they no longer thought were possible.”
The entire effort was completely organized by the High Fives Foundation whose mission is to provide resources and inspiration to mountain action sports athletes with life-altering injuries.
“I actually attempted post-injury skiing for the first time earlier this season, and I really struggled” said Air Force Veteran Shay Hampton of Reno, Nev. “I can already see how the nine weeks of training will translate to the snow. I can’t wait to get back out there!”
In 2015, Military to the Mountains inspired Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resort, located in the Lake Tahoe, California, to join the program. The resort now provides a Silver Tahoe Super Pass to active military personnel, along with a note of appreciation and a challenge coin for a donation of $25; all proceeds support the Military to the Mountains program. In 2016 Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows made a contribution of over $150,000 to the program.
“We’re dedicated to improving the physical and emotional health of US veterans,” said Roy Tuscany, Executive Director of the High Fives Foundation. “It’s been an extremely rewarding opportunity to bring all of these organizations together to honor these men and women who have been injured serving our country.”
On Wednesday, April 5, the program participants were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and they were eager to hit the slopes with the help of Achieve Tahoe instructors. Military to the Mountains ski day one saw US Veterans smiling, laughing and high fiving all around Alpine Meadows.
"The first day of skiing was more about learning the ski and weight shifts more than anything," said program participant Tyler Rollins, Arkansas National Guard Veteran. "Although I got to open it up off of the Meadows lift in the afternoon. I hadn't experienced speed like that in awhile."
With less than desirable weather on the second day, the Military to the Mountains Crew changed plans and headed to the indoor action sports instructional facility Woodward Tahoe.
Originally disappointed at the prospect of not being able to ski, the Veterans’ attitudes quickly changed when they started using the facilities ramps and trampolines. An hour into the session, Reno Veteran Trey Humphrey sent an eruption of cheers through the facility when he back flipped his mono-ski off a ramp into the foam pit.
"I didn't even expect to go upside down at first, it just felt right when I hit the transition," said Humphrey. "I've done back flips into an airbag before, so it felt really comfortable."
With the Military to the Mountains participants on an all time high from the heroics that took place at Woodward Tahoe, the crew was ready for days three and four of skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. The two final days saw wind and snow, but the participants’ spirits weren’t dampened.
The daily progression of each participant was impressive, but perhaps most notable was that of Keller, Texas native, United States Army Veteran, Will Hoyum.
"I was involved in last years Military to the Mountains program and I was only able to ski 30 meters unassisted before falling, and that was the same on the morning of the first day this year," said Hoyum. "This year I lapped Subway multiple times completely on my own. I was just skiing!"
After elaborate dinners, an amazing day at Woodward Tahoe, and great times on the slopes of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Military to the Mountains came to a close on Saturday, April 9. Embraces and memories were shared between the Reno and Dallas Area Veterans. After 10 amazing weeks of training and skiing, everyone parted ways in anticipation for the 2018 program. It wasn’t “goodbye,” it was “I’ll see you next year, and let’s keep in touch.”
To learn more about the program, visit - highfivesfoundation.org/military-to-the-mountains/
Contact: Steve Wallace
High Fives Non-Profit Foundation
ABOUT THE HIGH FIVES FOUNDATION:
The High Fives Foundation is a Tahoe-based, national 501.c.3 non-profit organization. The High Fives Foundation supports the dreams of mountain action sports athletes by raising injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffer life-altering injuries. Formed as a way to “pay-it-forward” by the founder from his own recovery to help injured athletes, the Foundation has helped 146 athletes from 27 to date since its inception in 2009. For more information, visit www.highfivesfoundation.org
ABOUT THE ADAPTIVE TRAINING FOUNDATION:
Adaptive Training Foundation’s mission is to empower the human athlete, restore hope through movement, and redefine the limits of individuals with disabilities. For more information, visit www.adaptivetrainingfoundation.org
ABOUT THE CITY OF RENO:
The City of Reno government’s mission is to effectively provide the highest level of service responsive to our community. In order to achieve that purpose, the Reno City Council has established five key priorities: Vibrant Downtown, Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, Planned Growth, Fiscal Stability and Sustainable Services, and Predictable and Accessible Business Environment. For more information, visit www.reno.gov
ABOUT SQUAW VALLEY ALPINE MEADOWS:
Voted ‘Best Ski Resort’ in North America for the second year in a row by USA Today and 10Best Readers’ Choice 2017, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is an internationally renowned mountain resort in North Lake Tahoe that spans over 6,000 skiable acres. The resort features slopeside lodging at The Village at Squaw Valley®, which bustles year round with nonstop events and nearly 60 bars, restaurants and boutiques. With an annual average of 450 inches of snowfall and 300 sunny days, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is known as the Spring Skiing Capital™ as it provides one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in Lake Tahoe. Skiers and riders of all ability levels are welcomed by over 65 percent beginner and intermediate terrain, 14 easy-to-navigate mountain zones and a custom app to make the most of every visit. Visit squawalpine.com or call 1.800.403.0206 to learn more.