Introducing Veterans to Skiing

Greg Gadson & The Vail Veterans Program

Greg Gadson is an Army veteran. He spent 26 years serving our country in the big conflicts of the past three decades. He’s an inspiration, a leader and now a skier.

In 2007, Gadson was serving in Iraq when an injury cost him both his legs and damage to his right arm and hand. Three months after his injury, he was offered an opportunity to visit the Vail Veterans Program, which was set up to help wounded warriors and their families rebuild confidence and provide a sense of freedom after catastrophic injuries. At the time, Gadson’s kids were 13 and 14 and were certainly affected by their dad’s catastrophic injury. He accepted the invitation and headed to Vail with his family.

Reflecting on his first trip with the Vail Veterans Program, Gadson provides a truly moving account. “The Vail Veterans Program really changed my life and that of my family,” he said. “My whole being was turned upside down. My kids now had a father without legs. The Vail Veterans Program helped right things for me and my family. It is absolutely profound.”

The program reintroduced Gadson to skiing in March 2008. He now tries to hit the slopes a few times each winter. Skiing, he says, restores a part of him. He feels a bond to the natural environment and loves the mountainscapes, the wind in his face, the sense of freedom.  

Gadson is a burly guy. “250 pounds of sex appeal and steel,” he says. He uses a monoski with a sit-ski rig (another 35 pounds) and cruises the slopes at over 40 miles per hour. The speed puts a lot of stress on his monoski. After suffering broken skis every three days, Gadson was ready to try something new. Enter Wagner and a new challenge for our ski engineers and builders. We’re still dialing in specs and materials but Gadson finally got to ski a whole season on a single durable ski.

The topsheet graphic tells a story from his life, with the photo of a 155mm howitzer he spirited out of Schofield Barracks in Hawaii to use in Afghanistan. He’s reminded of that epic adventure each time he skis.

“Life goes on,” Gadson says. “The world doesn’t stop. You may have an event in your life that changes how you do things, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do things. Make the most of what you have.”

The Vail Veterans Program helps Veterans and their families beyond outdoor activities. They work on the mind, body and spirit, incorporating various trainings into their programming. It’s an approach to the entire journey of life, not just a short-term recovery solution for Veterans and their families. If you are interested in supporting a cause, Gadson wants you to know that the Vail Veterans Program helps those that defend our nation through their own tough and personal situations. It has changed his life for the better and that of his family.

So, what’s next for Gadson? Heliskiing of course!