Appalachian Ski Mtn., Appalachian Ski Patrol Hosted Wounded Warrior Event on Slopes

Published Monday, March 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Photos from the Wounded Warrior Event at Appalachian Ski Mtn. this past Saturday. Photos by Ken Ketchie


By Jesse Wood

Appalachian Ski Mtn. and Appalachian Ski Patrol hosted the third annual Wounded Warrior event at the resort on Saturday, Feb. 28, to honor, support and raise awareness for wounded veterans.

The event included a flag presentation by the Appalachian State University’s ROTC and the Appalachian Ski Patrol, a flyover by Team Aerodynamix, a singing of the national anthem by Diana Wilcox, who has a son that is a member of the Appalachian Ski Patrol, and guest speaker Mike O’Conner, a retired Navy captain.

Three years ago, Appalachian Ski Patrol Director Joe Donadio created the event, noting that several members on the patrol have done tours overseas and at least two are still deployed. Each year the event grows in stature and attendance.

“You read about it in the paper about all of these soldiers coming back from over there, and this is kind of a new thing for our generation to deal with, and we just wanted to do something for them,” Donadio said.

“You know we can’t repay them for the sacrifices they’ve made, but maybe we can provide a day of fun to get their minds off of other things, something positive and make them understand we know what they’re doing for us and try to support them in some way. That was my goal.”

Members of the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit with the vision to “foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history,” were invited to the morning ceremony and spent the rest of the day at the resort, receiving lessons and skiing and riding down the slopes.

Donadio said that seeing the smiles on the faces of the veterans made the event worthwhile.

“To see the stress go away and see the happiness on their faces and have them enjoying the time with their family and see our patrol having fun, that’s our main goal,” Donadio said. “It makes it very worth while. It just touches you in a way that is very heartwarming.”

During his speech to those in attendance, Conner emphasized communal healing. Conner mentioned that a lot of the injuries are invisible to the naked eye and said that these gatherings allow for a spiritual and mental-health healing among Wounded Warriors and their families.

Conner praised Appalachian Ski Mtn. for the event that was “really well done.”

While Conner enjoyed the bagpipes, aircraft flyover, the fire trucks with the big American flag and ski patrollers charging down the mountain with the flag to present to ROTC, Conner said that he was particular touched by individual conversations with some of the veterans.

“I had a great conversation with one of the Wounded Warriors. It was very emotional. She was really struggling and having a hard time with life and we just had a real-deep conversation that was a little bit emotional,” Conner said.

Appalachian Ski Mtn. General Manager Brad Moretz, who attended the ceremony with his family, said that this day has come to be one that the entire staff looks forward to each year.

“I think when we can find a way to give back to people who’ve made such a profound sacrifice for everyone else, that’s just something that we need to do,” Moretz said. “I think everybody involved really appreciated the opportunity to be involved, and I hope it’s something we will be able to do for a long time to come.”




Retired Navy Captain Mike O’Conner was a guest speaker at the Wounded Warrior Event at Appalachian Ski Mtn.









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ASM President Brad Moretz (in green jacket) and his family stand next to John and Brenda Speckmann’s (left) family watch the flyover.




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