For soldiers and veterans injured in battle, learning to ski might sound like moving a mountain. But on Saturday at Wintergreen Resort, Wounded Warriors took on that challenge.
Ski instructor Matthew Staton is helping injured soldiers and veterans take on the mountain during Wintergreen's Wounded Warriors weekend.
"Getting them back out there - just the look on their face going from that initial kind of terror look that they've got on their face to that kind of kids smile in a candy store look where it's just their eyes are gleaming and it's great and to see that is the best thing in the world," Staton said. "For them to look at me and say wait a minute, if he can do it what can I do?"
Staton is not your ordinary ski instructor. Like the skiers braving the slopes with the help of special equipment and volunteers this weekend, he too has come a long way since he was wounded at war.
"The initial shock of having a gunshot wound to the upper left leg and multiple ones across the chest - you don't really think about what you're going to be doing afterward, you're kind of thankful that you're alive," Staton said. "But days later, when I was laying there in Landstuhl after my second surgery, it really sank in is would I even be able to walk again?"
Warrior weekend was filled to capacity with 27 Wounded Warriors and their families, reaching heights they might have never imagined.
"I think as a newly-hurt service member it's important to understand that even though life is different, it's going to go on and you're still going to be able to do some really fun things," said Dennis Walburn.
And Staton is cheering them all on.
"I can look at them and say 'do I look 100 percent disabled?' I am," he said. "The VA considers me 100 percent disabled. I don't walk around here being known by my disabilities, I'm known for my abilities."
For the first time this year, Wintergreen is running a program called "Every Day is Warrior Day." Now, Wounded Warriors can ski at Wintergreen for free any time throughout the season.