On the Slopes: Cable's 18 Years of Support for US Paralympics Ski Team

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The “SkiTAM” name is gone, but the fundraising event for the US Paralympics National Ski Team lives on. The 18th annual cable ski event will kick off next Thurs in Vail, CO. For now, it's being called Adaptive Spirit's ski event, as it transitions to a yet-to-be-determined name. We asked non-profit's exec cmte co-chairs, Joe Rooney (Cox's svp, brand marketing, advertising and social media) and Steve Raymond (Disney and ESPN Nets' svp, natl accounts) to elaborate on the long weekend of powder and Adaptive Spirit. (Can't make it to the slopes? Check out Adaptivespirit.com for more info and to give to the cause). Why does this event attract such a following, growing from 110 attendees in '96 to more than 1K last year? Rooney: This event is about one thing: People. The 2 kinds of wonderful people at our event–amazing cable people who come year after year in support of an even more amazing group of disabled athletes who wear USA on their sleeves. The emotional connection our industry has created with the athletes is incredible. And to be able to share this passion with your industry colleagues is truly a gift. We have people that been coming to this event for 18 years. What if you don't ski? Raymond: How about apres-ski? Our event has always been a great place to reconnect with industry friends. Whether those important business connections happen at our great industry panel (presented with the Rocky Mountain Cable Assn and moderated by our own Michael Grebb) or on the slopes, or at the spa, it really does not matter! Vail offers attendees many other choices of recreation, ice skating, Nordic Skiing, snowmobiling, dogsledding and it has world class dining options. Given SkiTAM's history, do you think people will really take up the new Adaptive Spirit moniker? Rooney: We have 18 years of success and brand equity with SkiTAM. SkiTAM was created through a loan from the CTAM national organization, and oversight by the CTAM Rocky Mountain Chapter. Now that CTAM Chapters have ceased, and we have no relationship with CTAM, we are in a transitional phase to lock in a new event name. We created Adaptive Spirit as the official organization overseeing our event 2 years ago. And while not as catchy as SkiTAM, Adaptive Spirit is a great, descriptive name for our organization. Part of our goal is to create more opportunities to support the US Paralympic Ski Teams and that includes helping build the development pipeline of athletes. Many new disabled athletes are US military veterans that have served in the Middle East are looking for ways to continue to participate in sport–and adaptive skiing is a great option. The Adaptive Spirit brand is more flexible as we look to increase our efforts with programs that support disabled US Veterans. Regardless of the name, please know that we will always look to keep our strong connection to the cable industry. What does Adaptive Spirit do beyond this fundraiser? Raymond: We have created a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Cable Association and partner with them on our educational panels and also partner on some other Denver-based events. We have had some discussion with other industry organizations about providing some assistance in hiring people with disabilities. Our partner, US Paralympics, has a strong history of working with its Olympic partners in not only finding former athletes jobs but helping create programs to find new talent. Most of these athletes have all the traits you would look for in employees: goal oriented, risk takers, able to deal with adversity and an amazing attitude to compete.

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