Meet the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Steve Raymond
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: The Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Induction Gala is one of the most important annual celebrations of the state’s snowsports industry and a unique opportunity to meet, mix and mingle with the men and women who have shaped the industry. Leading up to the event on Saturday, Oct. 26, the Colorado Snowsports Museum will profile the five members of the Class of 2019.
Twenty-four years ago, a group of cable TV executives saved a financially struggling U.S. Disabled Ski Team from extinction. Much has changed since Steve Raymond held the first iteration of Adaptive Spirit, but the inspiration remains the same.
Back in 1984, Raymond, now Vice President of Client Solutions for Gracenote Connectivity, was a young college grad, teaching skiing in Vail. One day on the slopes, Raymond’s friend, Bob Meserve, was paralyzed in a ski accident.
Drawn back to the snow, Meserve discovered mono-skiing and soon was named to what was then called the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and competed at the Paralympic Winter Games. Meserve has gone on to become a pioneer in adaptive skiing, being named board president of Disable Sports USA and running many committees for the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In 1994, Meserve came to Raymond with a dilemma. One of the team’s biggest sponsors was pulling its funding. The program was in danger of dissolving unless it could somehow come up with enough money to keep it alive. Raymond had seen the impact of adaptive skiing on his friend and wanted to ensure that other athletes had that chance as well.
Raymond, who was working at ESPN at the time and serving as president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing, worked with other CTAM members, who also knew of the team’s plight, to devise a plan to save the team and the careers of athletes like Meserve.
They wanted to create a signature networking event for cable industry professionals from across the nation that doubled as a fundraiser for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. Raymond called the late Warren Miller to see if he would give the keynote speech and just like that, SkiTAM, now known as Adaptive Spirit, was born in 1995.
Cable and telecom industry executives from across the Rocky Mountain region gathered in Vail to form business connections and share best practices while raising money for the team. That first event raised $100,000, effectively saving the team and launching a tradition that would continue for years to come.
The annual three-day Adaptive Spirit event brings together world-class adaptive racers with media and telecommunications corporate sponsors and their guests. To date, more than 20,000 business executives and guests have participated in the event.
Financially, Adaptive Spirit accounts for 40% of the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team operating budget. A seven-figure endowment, Adaptive Spirit Paralympic Fund, has also been created and a number of corporations are sponsoring individual adaptive racers.
Raymond’s involvement with Adaptive Spirit led him to other adaptive sports organizations where he could dedicate his time. He served on the board of the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park for seven years, while also being part of the team that introduced Mono-Skier X to ESPN’s Winter X Games. Raymond was Chef de Mission for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games and serves on the board of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation.
All who have been involved with Adaptive Spirit — the U.S. Olympic Committee, NSCD, Adaptive Spirit board members, volunteers, sponsoring corporations, attendees and athletes agree that it has been Raymond’s steadfast volunteer commitment to Adaptive Spirit, his operational leadership and his stewardship that have enabled the athletes to excel. Thanks to him, Adaptive Spirit is indeed an unparalleled and unique 24-year fundraising and athletic Colorado success story.
Tickets for the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame Induction Gala are on sale, with reserved individual tickets priced at $325 and tables of 10 at $3,750. A $250 general individual ticket is available but does not include seating preference. The gala takes place at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort in Lionshead Village.
To purchase tickets or for additional information, visit snowsportsmuseum.org or call 970-476-1876. All proceeds from the gala benefit the Colorado Snowsports Museum.
Company officials say every aspect of Vail management is now focused on attaining the company’s goal of achieving a zero net operating footprint by 2030. Vail Resorts calls the plan their “Commitment to Zero,” and defines it a zero net carbon emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfills, and zero operating impact on forests and natural habitat.