Lou Caracciolo, ASF volunteer and chef/owner of Brandywine Restaurant, volunteers as a winter ski instructor and summer kayak and canoe instructor. Lou’s gentle, patient, steadfast demeanor
relaxes participants and elicits success. Whether riding a horse with wounded warriors, calming a first time kayaker, or coaching a child on the ski slope, Lou’s caring attitude and passion for sharing outdoor recreation is infectious. He is also a gracious host, welcoming locals, visiting skiers, and veterans with disabilities to his lovely Italian restaurant in Windham. We sat down and asked Lou to tell us a bit about his journey as an Adaptive Sports Foundation volunteer.
How does a nice boy from southern Italy end up in Windham, New York as a restaurant owner and volunteer with the Adaptive Sports Foundation?
I came to Windham, not knowing the area. I wanted to open my own restaurant (I couldn’t afford to in Long Island, where I was living) where people could enjoy good food and be happy…I’m always wanting to see people happy. I guess volunteering for the Adaptive Sports Foundation and Brandywine go hand in hand.
How did you become involved with the Adaptive Sports Foundation?
When I was volunteering for Guest Services at the base lodge, I always watched the work adaptive instructors were doing with their students with awe. I just wanted to be part of that.
What inspired you to volunteer?
I never thought I was good enough to teach skiing, but my friend who already was an ASF volunteer encouraged me to join. She assured me that it would be all good, she was right ! I’m glad I did.
What was it like coming to the ASF for the first time?
Totally overwhelming! Seeing all these people from all walks of life all with one common goal was very moving.
How was your training experience?
Training, although scary at first, built my confidence. The trainers were incredible, very talented, prepared and always ready to help with tips and suggestions on how to and why. It was, and still is, a privilege and an honor to ski with these people.
Describe your most challenging teaching experience/student as a ski instructor and/or water sports instructor.
Working with a person with disabilities is always challenging, it is difficult to pinpoint one specific moment as it is an ever changing experience, I think that is why they call us Adaptive.
Describe your most rewarding experience volunteering at ASF.
A nine year old girl who had never skied before and was totally afraid of even putting ski boots on…when we finally got out on snow all she wanted to do was make snow angels…so we did for a while…however by the end of the day she was coming down White Way right next to me and actually smiling. Seeing her father in the near distance watching all this was definitely a wonderful and rewarding experience.
What is your favorite thing to do at ASF?
All of it.
We are so appreciative of the wonderful dinners you prepare and serve our wounded warriors at Brandywine. Your generosity and culinary skills are deeply appreciated. Is there a story or experience you want to share about that?
I have worked with a lot of different wounded warriors groups over the years and they never cease to amaze me. I have become friends with lots of them, always looking forward to seeing them again, whether it is for summer sports or skiing. It is always so great to reconnect. It is my honor to host them at Brandywine and do all I can to please them. It is my way to say to them, “Thank you for our freedom.”