Employee Impact: Helping Para-athletes Tackle the Slopes
This post is part of a series that highlights Regence’s unique Executive Board Placement program, which works to match company employees with nonprofit organizations looking to grow their board of directors. A key part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach to giving, the board placement program has become one of the most impactful ways Regence strengthens local communities and supports employees in their own volunteerism. Through the board placement program, and the corresponding funding that complements an employee’s board service, Regence supports employees to serve the greater good.
Wasatch Adaptive Sports (WAS) provides instruction of winter and summer recreational pursuits for individuals with adaptive needs and their families. Their programs build strength, stamina, and self-esteem while enhancing the quality of life for all students no matter their disability. For Miguel Rovira, avid skier, board member and Director of Community and Business Relations at Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, being involved in WAS is a way for him to help people with disabilities get out on the slopes and experience the thrill and excitement he feels when shredding down a mountain.
Why did you decide to get involved in Wasatch Adaptive Sports?
Miguel: Skiing has been a passion for most of my life. I am a certified ski instructor and teach part-time at the Snowbird’s Mountain Ski School in Utah. Wasatch Adaptive Sports also works with the school, so it was a natural fit for me. Helping people realize their potential on the slopes is something magical.
What do you do on the board?
Miguel: I serve, and support WAS in many ways including the executive committee and as an interface between local companies and private donors interested in supporting our programs. Because WAS is a private, non-profit organization, there is a significant amount of time spent around fundraising to ensure continuity of this important work.
Have there been any projects that you’ve been able to help drive?
Miguel: In accordance with Wasatch Adaptive Sports’ philosophy; all staff, volunteers, donors and even board members ski the adaptive devices, as such, I have begun learning how to apply my knowledge of alpine skiing to the sit-ski. I have also been fortunate enough to work with the instructors to improve their techniques by increasing their understanding of the equipment that para-athletes use to ski.
Most people take the physical process of skiing for granted, but for para-athletes, things like applying pressure to the outrigger equipment and the balance involved can be quite challenging. WAS also offers individuals the opportunity to get outdoors and exercise in the summer through recumbent biking. Working with many of these people I have seen the benefits provided when they move their bodies and stay active.
What is the impact that the organization’s work is having on the community?
Miguel: WAS strives to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and community integration by creating a pathway toward maximum independence. While instructional lessons are at the heart of the mission, our strategic initiatives moving forward include the development of a caregiver training program, group sessions and a rental program. Additionally, WAS plans to bridge this gap by continuing to engage students through a Scholarship Assistance Fund which, in 2017, provided over 90% of student’s lessons on scholarship.
Working with over 800 athletes each year and for an organization that is made up of mostly volunteers, is incredibly rewarding. It’s amazing to see the impact of WAS with our athletes.
What does it mean for you that Regence supports your work?
Miguel: It’s important for me to give back to my community, and I am proud to work for an organization that is committed to that philosophy. I am passionate about skiing and exercising, and the fact that I’m able to share that passion with others is extremely gratifying. To see people who have lost a limb or are paralyzed come barreling down a hill with a huge smile on their face fills me an unbelievable sense of achievement and satisfaction.
For more information about the Executive Board Placement program, please contact Alison Arella at (503) 414-7849 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.