By Jon Jon Sarubbi, ASF Volunteer Snowboard Instructor
For the past several years, I have spent my winter weekends in Windham, New York volunteering with the Adaptive Sports Foundation. Most teenagers would not think of volunteering as the best way to spend their weekends (you have to get up and out the door before 8am!), but for me it was a lifetime in the making. Caitlin, my visually impaired older sister, started skiing with the ASF as a child. This opportunity stirred a passion in her which lead to her to compete in the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver. Seeing first hand how much the ASF and its volunteers changed her life, I knew that I wanted to do my part and give back. You see, to say I have been around the “give back” environment my whole life is an understatement. My father is a NYC fireman who instilled in all his five kids the importance of helping those who are in need. My mom is extremely active in our community, schools and church. A week doesn’t go by that she isn’t helping out with some event or fundraiser. My older sisters were volunteer ski and snowboard instructors with the ASF and probably the most impactful was when I watched how so many people and organizations helped my sister Caitlin overcome her disabilities and achieve goals she could barely imagine possible.
However, this past winter at the Adaptive Sports Foundation I was old enough to become a volunteer snowboard instructor and was able to go from watching others help to the one doing the helping. The Foundation gave me an opportunity to turn my life long passion for snowboarding into a way to help others. As a ASF volunteer snowboard instructor, I found myself teaching students with all types of disabilities. The smiles on the children’s faces are priceless. It is in these moments, I’ve truly experienced the gift of giving. I love knowing that I had a little hand in making someone’s day a little brighter.
One of my favorite weekends is when the ASF runs it’s annual Warriors in Motion Learn to Ski and Snowboard event for injured United States servicemen and women. To be able to give back to our military that sacrificed so much for our way of life is the best feeling ever. Not only have the Warriors and students become my friends, but also a whole new social aspect of Windham has been opened up through volunteering at ASF. The ASF is a great way to get to know other young volunteers that share the same values and passions for giving back. I have seen it through my sister’s circle of friends, even after graduating from college they come back to the ASF to reconnect with each other and the staff, but mostly the students and their families. Growing up I often heard the saying, “In giving you receive” and it wasn’t until I started volunteering at the ASF did I truly understand how powerful that statement is. I encourage any teenager (or any adult) to find their passion and turn that passion into a way to help someone else. I could never imagine that my love of snowboarding could change someone’s life but I found out this winter, it could and I am forever grateful for that opportunity.