Renewing the Spirit: Supporting Our Vets

Written by Sean Keery, Ski Pro based at Aspen Highlands

Today, there are more than 21 million Americans with a physical disability, many who are eligible to compete in Paralympic sport. Over the past decade, thousands of military personnel have sustained serious injuries during active duty tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Research shows that daily physical activity enhances not only an individual’s self-esteem and peer relationships but also results in increased achievement and better health, enabling a higher quality of life. However, despite these findings, most individuals with Paralympic-eligible impairments do not have the opportunity to participate in any regular sports activity.

Sean Keery

Sean Keery

I was able to represent the Aspen Skiing Company and EMC as a volunteer for the International Paralympic Committee Events at Aspen Highlands during the second week of December.  The races were organized by U.S. Paralympics, part of the United States Olympic Committee.  They are dedicated to promoting excellence in the lives of people with Paralympic-eligible impairments while demonstrating the values of the Olympic Movement, thereby inspiring all Americans.

Since its formation in 2001, U.S. Paralympics has been inspiring Americans to achieve their dreams. Through relationships with hundreds of organizations across the country including National Governing Bodies/High Performance Management Organizations and Paralympic Sport Clubs, U.S. Paralympics is making a difference in the lives of thousands of people with Paralympic-eligible impairments every day with educational opportunities and sports programming.

While grassroots programming is an area of emphasis for U.S. Paralympics, the organization is also the National Paralympic Committee in the United States, as recognized by the International Paralympic Committee, and is responsible for elite sports programming including sending a U.S. Paralympic Team to the Paralympic Games, summer and winter. U.S. Paralympics operates as the NGB/HPMO for six sports: alpine skiing, cycling, Nordic skiing (biathlon and cross-country skiing), snowboarding, swimming and track and field.


Kevin Jardine, left – Director, High Performance, Paralympic Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding, US Olympic committee.


My responsibility on the course crew was to keep the venue safe for the athletes. Competitors included athletes with physical disabilities and visual impairments.

EMC Gives Back supports health, human services, arts programs, and disaster relief efforts in order to strengthen society and help shape the future of our local communities.

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Aspen Skiing Company believes that the health of the communities in they operate IS critical to their success. They believe that strengthening local communities through volunteerism helps build:
• A cohesive team of employees
• An ethic of service
• Measurable and sustainable impact in communities where we live and work
• Opportunity to develop leadership skills
• Strengthened relationships with stakeholders (from friends & family to community & business partners)

Although the skiers were in the spotlight, the snowboarding team was out training for their January 11-13 World Cup Events in Aspen.


Snowboarders Amy Purdy – 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist, Coach Miah Wheeler and Evan Strong – 2014 Paralympic Gold Medalist

Learn more about Aspen Skiing Company’s volunteer program and the U.S. Paralympic team.

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About Matthew Hamilton

Matthew Hamilton is Aspen Skiing Company’s (ASC) Sustainability Director. He is also the Executive Director of the Environment Foundation, which has donated more than $2 million over the past 15 years. Matthew oversees ASC's community philanthropy, and runs ASC's day-to-day environmental programs, including the monthly Greenletter, and GREENTRACK, ASC's ISO 14001 certified environmental management system. Matthew is also consultant with Aspen Sustainability Associates, and has lectured nationally and internationally on ASC's work. He currently serves as President of the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education, and on the boards of the Carbondale Tourism Council, Colorado Youth Corps Association and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. Previously, Matthew was a Research Officer at The Piton Foundation, working with low income neighborhoods on issues of education reform, affordable housing and economic development. Prior to that, he worked for Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger anti-poverty group; the Independent Sector, a national association of nonprofits and foundations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (on a project called Enterprise for the Environment), for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and for Middlebury College. Matthew has a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Middlebury College and a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University where he focused on nonprofit management. During his free time he can be found on his bike spending time enjoying many of the local trails and back roads. He lives in Carbondale, Colorado with his wife Jen, and their children Boden and Beck.