Ski Party With a Purpose

This Thursday, more than 1,000 members of the cable industry will gather in Vail, Colo., for three days of skiing and networking. But what happens at SkiTAM — the annual fundraiser staged by the Rocky Mountain chapter of CTAM — isn't the story.

It's what happens as a result of SkiTAM that truly matters.

In fact, if not for the more than $4 million raised by cable through the event for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, the team might have been forced to disband 11 years ago. As disabled athlete George Sansonetis once observed: “Without SkiTAM, there's no U.S. Disabled Ski Team — it's as simple as that.”

Since then, SkiTAM has become the team's signature fundraising event and an integral part of helping more than 75 disabled athletes to win more than 260 races, 84 medals and trips to 100 World Cup podiums, including victories at the Winter Paralympics in Torino, Italy, earlier this month.

But SkiTAM's value is realized in other venues — such as on the faces of students from a school in Denver who cheered on their heroes, who also regularly visit their classrooms, at an international qualifying event.

Or in nods from kids from Disabled Ski Team athlete Ralph Green's Brooklyn neighborhood that seem to say, “If he can overcome all that, I can make it too.”

And we've seen the value of SkiTAM when Coast Guard veteran and paraplegic Chris Devlin Young hosts recent amputees, combat casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, for a day on the slopes.

For many of them, that moment in time will mark a shift in thinking about how their lives have changed, from thoughts of lives limited by conflict-inflicted disabilities to futures that hold fulfilling possibilities.

We're also beginning to bring the value of our SkiTAM relationships back to our companies, customers and communities. Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Samsung, WE: Women's Entertainment and Charter Communications all have applied the inspiring examples of the highly competitive, persevering and dedicated athletes they sponsor to the situations faced by their employees. This is in keeping with the example of megaretailer Home Depot, which created a national advertising campaign focusing on its sponsorship of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Now that the team's future is assured, we can focus on the future of SkiTAM. We will be working to identify additional ways that your support for people with physical disabilities can also benefit not just your marketing or public affairs, but the resource we all need in this industry: great people.