Granby Ranch partners with nonprofit to teach wounded warriors to ski, ride
A small band of wounded warriors will hit Granby Ranch for a week this spring, the culminating moments of a grueling nine week training program — let’s just call it a boot camp.
Working and living in a close-knit team — the program’s founders use the word “family” — the small group that’s suffered so much will over nine weeks build their camaraderie, strength and stamina, important skills for the trip ahead to Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
And so before coming to Granby Ranch, the warriors who’ve sustained combat-related injuries will train together as a unit at the Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, a city that hasn’t seen over an inch of snow since March 2015.
For the program’s first year at Granby Ranch, the resort is looking to bring about 10 warriors up from March 28 to April 3 after the training.
“This unique program offers wounded war-fighters an opportunity to tap back into their physicality by pushing through mental and physical barriers, while also developing friendships and a strong sense of tribe with the warriors with who they’re training,” said David Vobora, a former NFL player who founded the Adaptive Training Foundation.
The timeline for the 10-week Military to the Mountain program — nine training, plus one at the ranch — emulates that of most basic training regimens in the armed forces. It’s an intense physical and emotional program, founder Roy Tuscany explained, but once complete, the warriors will be mountain ready.
“There’s no question they’ll be physically fit,” Tuscany said. “The question is how are they going to adapt to sliding on snow.”
Military to the Mountain comes from the High Fives Foundation, which sprung out of an injury suffered by Tuscany. He was an aspiring professional free-style skier, but hurt his back on Mammoth Mountain in 2006 and was paralyzed from the waist down.
After his injury, Tuscany used the financial and community support he got for his own recovery to bring about the High Fives Foundation, an appropriately named nonprofit, considering Tuscany once held the world record for most high fives in a 24 hour period.
For Tuscany, Granby Ranch and its “welcoming approach to the sport” could make it the perfect place to continue the nonprofit’s work.
Having worked with Tuscany and the High Fives Foundation to create Military to the Mountain program at another ski resort, the new management team at Granby Ranch is big on the new partnership, too. They are also acutely aware of the statistics working against the nation’s servicemen and servicewomen, especially those who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries in service of their country.
The Pentagon issued a report in 2019 showing that from 2013 to 2018 the suicide rate among active duty military increased from 18.5 to 24.8 deaths per 100,000 service members with increases across all services. The statistics are well above the national average.
A survey from the Wounded Warrior Project from that same year revealed that almost one-third of wounded warriors reported having thoughts of suicide over the past two weeks. For many who have served in the military or have family serving, those numbers feel underreported.
Led by General Manager Jace Wirth and his dad Andy, Granby Ranch’s new management team from the Ridgeline Executive Group want to help these warriors.
The Wirths acknowledge there are many great organizations out there working for wounded warriors and veterans, but they see Military to the Mountain as another good one in a lineup that’s not nearly enough. They also believe the program will be a great fit for Granby after previously working with Tuscany at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows ski resorts in California, where Tuscany and Andy Wirth created the Military to the Mountain program.
Getting a feel for Granby Ranch and the surrounding community, the Wirths think a similar partnership at Granby Ranch will be seamless.
“It’s critical to our business that we not only focus on learning and sharing our passion for the mountains, but also for the sports of skiing and riding,” Jace Wirth said, explaining that they need to share the sport with everyone they can at Granby Ranch.
“The second part of this is the opportunity to work with Roy and the veteran community,” he added. “It’s something that our team is certainly very passionate about, and quite frankly, for a lot of the folks already on our mountain operation staff, it’s been something that’s very critical to them.”
For more about Military to the Mountain, go to http://www.HighFivesFoundation.org.
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