Wounded Warriors flourish in winter sport

Eric Alva

Eric Alva

Eric Alva joined the Marines to serve his country, like his father and grandfather in the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II, but in the early hours of March 21, 2003, Staff Sergeant Alva’s life changed forever when he stepped on a landmine and lost his right leg above the knee, making him the first U.S. Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War.

An athlete prior to his injury, Alva was determined to stay active. In December 2003 he attended The Hartford Ski Spectacular for the first time – just eight months after losing his leg. The winter sporting event showed him that he could continue doing everything he loved, despite his new circumstances.

“Attending The Hartford Ski Spectacular helped me realize that with opportunities like this, there’s nothing I shouldn’t be able to do,” said Alva. “I’m still the same person as always, riding high on life because I can still ski as I did before.”

VeteranYoungDisabled2This December, Alva will mentor more than 100 newly severely wounded warriors and their families participating in the 27th Annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular Dec. 1-7 at Beaver Run Resort and Breckenridge Ski Resort in Breckenridge, Colo. The seven-day event, sponsored by The Hartford, is one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for individuals with physical disabilities.

“We have a long-held belief that sports are an important part of recovery and rehabilitation following a disabling illness or injury,” said Mike Concannon, executive vice president of The Hartford’s Group Benefits business. “That’s why for two decades we have sponsored this program that epitomizes our Ability Philosophy. We celebrate the strength and resiliency of the wounded warriors, wish them continued healing, and hope they leave The Hartford Ski Spectacular empowered to achieve success.”

Founded in 1967, Disabled Sports USA is a national charitable organization that provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in sports. What began as a program to serve Vietnam veterans has since grown into one of the nation’s largest multi-sport, multi-disability organizations, annually serving more than 60,000 wounded warriors, youth, and adults with disabilities. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee Multi-Sport Organization Council, Disabled Sports USA offers programs in more than 40 summer and winter sports through its nationwide network of more than 100 community-based chapters. For more information, visit http://www.disabledsportsusa.org.

Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA, offers sports rehabilitation for severely wounded warriors in military hospitals and communities across the U.S. through a nationwide network of over 100 community-based chapters. Since 1967, Disabled Sports USA has proudly served wounded warriors, including those injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, offering over 30 winter and summer sports at more than 100 events each year. Warfighter Sports rebuilds lives through sports by improving self-confidence, promoting independence and uniting families through shared healthy activities.

VeteranYoungDisabled1Contributions cover all expenses for participation of the warrior and a family member, including individualized adaptive instruction, adaptive sports equipment, transportation, lodging and meals. Since 2003, more than 7,900 of the most severely wounded and their families have been served, including those with amputations, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, visual impairments, and significant nerve and muscle damage. For more information, visit www.warfightersports.org.

With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE:HIG) is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The company is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com.