The High Fives Foundation in Truckee, Calif., the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in Reno, Nev., and the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, Texas are teaming up to host a program called Military to the Mountain. 22 injured US Military Veterans will train at their respective facilities for nine weeks preparing them for a week of skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe, Calif. from March 11 to March 17, 2018. The Veterans will be instructed by Achieve Tahoe adaptive ski 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.”
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.
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 187 athletes from 32 states to date since its inception in 2009. For more information, visit www.highfivesfoundation.org.
“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.”
Prior to the week of skiing and snowboarding, each veteran will go through a nine-week training program (the standard length of military boot camp) at the Adaptive Training Foundation or the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department to ensure they are physically prepared for a week on the mountain. Each workout is geared specifically toward skiing and snowboarding.
“Adaptive skiing/snowboarding will be one of the greatest physical tests some of these athletes will have faced post injury” said Jonny Wright, REIGNITE Program Director at the Adaptive Training Center. “Our trainers are delivering specific workouts to meet the needs of each athlete’s limitations, preparing them for the rigors of the mountain.”
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.
Many of the veterans traveling from the Dallas, Texas area have not skied or snowboarded, and some of them haven’t even seen snow.
“When the veterans pull into Squaw Valley on the first day and see the massive snow covered mountain, some for the first time ever, their smiles say it all,” beams Tuscany. “They know right then and there, they are going to conquer the mountain, and that the nine weeks of rigorous training was worth every drop of sweat.”
All winter apparel for the participants will be provided by the High Fives Foundation through the following sponsors: Sync Performance, POC Sports, WSI Sports, Armada, SAXX Underwear, bigtruck, Arcade Belts and Darn Tough. Snacks and beverages will be provided by Tahoe Trail Bar and Vapur.
Along with the introduction to adaptive snow sports, the High Fives Foundation has introduced alternative “mountain-style” activities to the program. This year the veterans will spend a day jumping on trampolines, navigating ramps and boasting large smiles at Woodward Tahoe. Group yoga at the Wanderlust Yoga Squaw Valley was successfully added to the program schedule in 2015.
“When I teach these guys, I walk away feeling like anything in life is possible,” said Sherry McConkey, instructor at Wanderlust Yoga Squaw Valley. “The Military to the Mountain Crew is the most inspiring, humorous and brave group of people I have ever met. I am honored to pass along my love for yoga to this amazing group!”
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.
“Military to the Mountain instills hope by promoting health, wellness and positivity,” said Jim Kempner, 2017 Military to the Mountain participant. “I’m honored to be a part of this program that assists disabled United States Veterans in exceeding expectations of what is thought to be possible.”