PATROLLING WITH A PURPOSE

Appalachian State - Iota Pi

4 April by Connor Gantt, 14

connor-gantt

I became a member of The National Ski Patrol in 2011 and ever since then it has changed my life.

As a patroller, my main job is helping people — including taking people who have injuries varying from a paper cut to compound femur fractures, stabilize them and transport them to a higher level of care, if needed. But we also do a lot of work to help prevent skiers from getting injured. Every morning before the resort opens, we place signage and safety fences, check the conditions of all runs and make sure that they are safe to open, and generally inspect all aspects of the slopes and surrounding equipment to ensure that all of the slopes are ready to be opened.

A special event that I look forward to every year is when the local and regional chapters of The Special Olympics have its Winter Games at the Mountain where I volunteer. Around 250 athletes participated in this year’s Special Olympics Winter Games for the Southeast. While volunteering, I helped the athletes gather and put on all of their skis and equipment and then skied around with them as they participated in races such as the slalom and downhill. These games are always a special experience for me. It is rewarding to see people of all skill levels and abilities come out and do something that some might call extreme or crazy, and do it all with an exuberant smile on their face.

To me, this volunteer opportunity is not only extraordinary because I get to spend my time with others who have a common interest in a sport I love, but I also get to help people and brighten their day. As cliché as it sounds, a simple “thank-you” and a smile is what makes it all worth it.

Ever since I was young, my parents always instilled a commitment in me to serve others. Through following my interests I found this outlet to serve others, and it has not only changed the lives of the people around me, but also changed my perspective.

When I became an ATO I knew I wanted to help my brothers around me to become better men and have a positive impact in their lives. To me, the best outlet I could use to accomplish my goal was to become Chapter President. The leadership experiences I have gained through my volunteer work with the National Ski Patrol as well as the encounters and experiences I have had in my local chapter has allowed me to not only become a better leader, but also find self-purpose and a drive to help others.

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