Paralympic ski team fundraiser returns to Vail

Adaptive Spirit is the team’s biggest fundraiser, but has not been held in-person since 2019

A U.S. Paralympic Ski Team athlete participates in a ski race at the 2017 Adaptive Spirit Annual Event on Vail Mountain. The event will return on Thursday after three years away.
Adaptive Spirit/Courtesy image

Vail has been, historically, the home of the U.S. Paralympics Ski and Snowboard Team’s largest annual fundraiser, attracting more than 1,000 people and raising more than $1 million on a single weekend.

But the Adaptive Spirit Annual Event hasn’t been able to return to the mountain since 2019, making the event’s return in 2022 all that much more important.

More than a rally for adaptive skiing, the event doubles as a networking opportunity for the telecom industry, which hosts the event.

This year’s panelists include Chris Wallace, the brand leader of Google’s Media Lab; Christina Sasone, the vice president of CX Transformation at DISH; and Jana Arbanas, vice chair of Deloitte’s U.S. Telecom, Media and Entertainment sector. It will be moderated by Adriana Waterston, the research, chief revenue office/insights and strategy lead at Horowitz Research.

The event will return to the Grand Hyatt in Vail on Thursday and will run through Sunday.

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Vail roots

Adaptive Spirit got its start in 1995 after event co-chair Steve Raymond received a call from his longtime friend Bob Meserve, a member of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. Raymond and Meserve’s friendship went back to the ’80s, when Raymond lived in Vail.

“The U.S. Disabled Team was going to go out of business, a major sponsor had left … and they were going to fold,” Raymond said. “We created (Adaptive Spirit) … raised $100,000 and saved the team that year.”

Flash forward to 2015, when the event celebrated 20 years in Vail and raised $1.25 million for the U.S. Paralympic Ski Team in a single weekend.

A spring event, Adaptive Spirit was forced to cancel in 2020 and went virtual in 2021, celebrating the 25 years that would have been celebrated in 2020. Raymond, at the 2021 virtual event, said the fact that the Paralympic Games were just one year away at the time was a reason in itself to keep the event alive.

“We can’t wait for next year to see you all in person and to be celebrating the success of the U.S. Paralympics Ski and Snowboard Team in April of 2022,” Raymond said.

And indeed, the team has much to celebrate. Scheduled to attend this year is Vail native and Paralympic silver medalist Thomas Walsh; the most decorated Winter Paralympian to date, Oksana Masters; Paralympic multi-sport gold medalist Kendall Gretsch; and Paralympic gold medalist and entrepreneur “Monster” Mike Schultz.

For those who cannot attend the event but would like to support the cause, donations can be taken at

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