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The Man Behind The Cup: Ralph Hartman

The Adaptive Sports Foundation (ASF) will celebrate the end of its 40th winter of teaching adaptive ski and snowboard lessons tomorrow with its annual Ralph Hartman Tribute Cup. We asked Ralph’s son Brian Hartman and his daughter Pam Whitley to share a story about their father and how he ties into the history of the ASF.

Ralph (right) with a junior ASF medalist

Approaching 40 years of the Adaptive Sports Foundation is such a milestone. While on the one hand it makes you feel pretty old; on the other, it seems like a good time to reflect and share memories. Our father, Ralph Hartman, along with Gwen Allard and many others were part of the early pioneers in the formation of ASF.

As a result of a heart condition, Ralph lost a part of his left leg in 1984. While in therapy at an area rehab facility, he fortuitously met Gwen, the founder of the ASF and an adaptive ski instructor herself at Windham Mountain. Gwen cajoled and somehow encouraged Ralph that he did not have to give up his favorite lifelong passion of skiing. Instead, he could become involved with the genesis and evolution of Adaptive Sports Foundation. Her purposeful commitment to the program was a guiding light for those who were involved in the early days of the ASF and remains a lasting legacy to the program.

Ralph took the lead and lobbied Albany politicians for funding. He influenced his former company, Fleet Norstar Bank, to become a title sponsor of the foundation’s first race. His greatest contribution to the ASF came from his love of teaching others how to enjoy the outdoors. Starting as a participant with newly adorned outriggers, he later became a certified instructor and went on to enjoy many years of skiing and instructing.

The Hartman Family skiing in Colorado. Ralph, Barbara, Pam and Brian

While a passionate sportsman, Ralph’s greatest joy came from helping young people find a way to commune with nature. With his wife Barbara, his son Brian and his daughter Pam in tow, he enjoyed family camping trips to the Adirondacks. Always seeking an adventure, Ralph joined a Bobsledding Club at Mount Van Hoevenberg and even took a run at qualifying for the Olympics.

Barbara Hartman handing our medals at the first Ralph Hartman Tribute Cup

If skiing was Ralph’s ultimate muse, golf came right after it on his list of hobbies. After rehabbing from his amputation and receiving the okay from the doctor, Ralph discovered a secret that his golfing buddies had already figured out. The shift in his swing adjustment from back to front somehow boosted his drive an additional twenty yards!

The connection with the Adaptive Sports Foundation was a lifeline for our dad at a time when he needed the support of such a close-knit community. The Ralph Hartman Tribute Cup remains a testimony to the dedication of volunteers, staff and to all the Superheroes who light the way and inspire us all.

By Brian Hartman and Pam Whitley