M2M Embraces Wounded Vets
March 11, 2022
Article by: Stacey Zavadil
In its second winter at Granby Ranch, the Military to the Mountain program doubles down on giving back.
When Rorke Denver—former Head of Advanced SEAL Training and star of “Act of Valor”—addresses his wounded comrades at the Granby Ranch edition of Military to the Mountain this March, he’ll be careful in his wording, but also loving as only another vet can be. Careful because he doesn’t want to say the wrong thing. Loving, because combat veterans always tell each other how much they care.
“You join the military and they teach you taglines like ‘suffer in silence,’ and ‘metabolize pain,’ and you do that, you suffer so you can take care of your teammates,” says Rorke. “But while that’s useful at the time, now we need to tell each other it’s OK to suffer. It’s a normal reaction after the fact. So I won’t blunder, before I speak to the M2M crew privately I’ll talk to a buddy who is a psych doc who came from warfare. But what I know I’ll say is, ‘We are a team. We don’t have to do this alone. We’re still willing to die for each other.’ I’ll remind them of that, and I’ll remind them of how tough they are. I’ve yet to meet an injured veteran that isn’t tough as nails. And then I’ll tell them to ‘achieve the mission.’ The mission might not be simplistic Dick and Jane, black and white like it was overseas, but now the mission is to take care of yourself and your family and friends and enjoy what we fought for.”
Rorke is but one highlight in the uplifting highlight reel that is M2M’s on snow graduation. If you missed last year’s event, here’s the background. Seven years ago, Ridgeline Executive Group’s (the management company operating Granby Ranch) Andy Wirth, Roy Tuscany of High Fives fame (it’s a rehabilitation center and adaptive sports enterprise) and the footballer David Vobora dreamed up M2M as a way to give back. It’s been running at Palisades (formerly Squaw Valley) ever since. Last year the event also came to Granby Ranch. But first the wounded vets burn nine weeks in Texas at Vobora’s Adaptive Training Foundation center with a focus on winter sports. It’s a grueling camp, but the vets come out of it in fighting shape. Except, instead of combat, they head to Granby, where with the help of other M2M vets and adaptive sports coaches, they learn to ski and snowboard on whatever type of rig suits them.
It’s probably not a surprise that they excel at this. Last year, all 10 vets graduated. This year, the goal is 11, and Wirth wants to see those numbers continue to rise. “There’s just no greater honor than to attempt to give back to this community,” says Wirth. “The ski industry likes to believe it’s the center of the universe, and as operators it’s easy to get sucked into that worldview. But when you spend a few minutes with these folks, you’re reminded of what matters.”
Beyond hosting the crew and all the support personnel, one way that Granby Ranch will show they care is to host a special private performance featuring 20-year country music icon Joe Nichols (along with the renowned Brent Rowan from Steamboat) just for the M2M crew before they headline a public concert at Granby Ranch.
“I have a lot of former military friends,” says Nichols. “I became a musician and went the other way, but I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the military. They get forgotten in our hyper-politicized world. We forget about the luxury that they provide. We should thank them for doing the job that I didn’t do as a young man. I spent my career being a whacko musician. But my mind is about the bigger picture these days. I’m going to do everything I can to make this graduation more meaningful for them. The payoff is amazing. There’s not a happier feeling than rooting for those guys. I hope everyone comes out and joins us in that effort.”
This story appears in Granby Ranch’s winter mini-magazine edition. For more information or to get a print copy, please email eloveland (@) granbyranch.com.