“For over 50 years, Hal’s life was dedicated to teaching Adaptive Skiing and bringing the freedom of movement through skiing and the joy of the mountain to those less fortunate.”
Hal O’Leary, one of the pioneers in the adaptive snow sports industry, passed away at the age of 94. Born in 1927 in New Brunswick, Canada, Hal O’Leary immigrated to the United States in 1949 and lived in New York City and Denver before entering the ski industry. According to KJCT, Hal eventually moved to Winter Park in order to shred the gnar. In 1970, he volunteered at Winter Park to teach children with disabilities from Children’s Hospital in Denver. Inspired by this encounter, Hal ended up creating The National Sports Center For The Disabled in 1970. Since its incorporation, the program has helped four thousand children each year learn the sport. In 2001, he helped form with Kathy Gingery The Shining Stars Foundation, creating outdoor recreation programs for families that are dealing with long-term pediatric cancer treatment. Hal also helped form more than thirty adaptive programs in over thirty countries.
In 1992, he was named by Ski Magazine as “One of The 100 Best Things That Ever Happened To Skiing.” His award trophy was massive and too long to state here, but two of his biggest accomplishment was being inducted into the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. He leaves behind a legacy as one of the most important figures in skiing and adaptive sports history.
His life will be celebrated later this summer in Winter Park, Colorado. His family is asking for donations to either The National Sports Center for the Disabled or the Shining Stars Foundation to help continue his ambitions. We send our condolences to his family during this challenging time and commemorate his contributions towards making the ski and snowboard industry a more inclusive place.