In the last few months, a multitude of people in the communities of Truckee, Olympic Valley and the greater North Lake Tahoe area have publicly undermined the character of the president and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, Andy Wirth.
Upon reading the POWDER Magazine digital article “Crossroads” by Julie Brown, a comment made by Jamie Schectman, co-founder of the Mountain Rider’s Alliance, upset me so much so, that I needed to speak my mind in support of and with supreme respect for Mr. Wirth.
To state it simply, Andy Wirth is easily one of the best humans that I have ever had the privilege of calling a friend.
I am writing this letter as a community member with a vested interest in its future, not as the executive director and co-founder of the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation.
Yes, our registered 501(c)3 organization has benefited immensely from the support of Squaw Valley, thanks in no small part to assistance from Andy Wirth, and, we have seen tremendous growth from a progression of marquee fundraising events at the resort.
Squaw Valley’s continued support and the invaluable network of connections this partnership has produced has greatly facilitated the organization’s growth in a positive direction and helped to make our vision of becoming the safety net of the winter sports community a reality.
The High Fives Foundation is one of many nonprofit organizations that Andy has helped on his on will. He doesn’t just help in a fiscal sense, he utilizes his personal network of friends, business partners, and constantly offers his own time to assist local organizations in the Lake Tahoe to see to it that they succeed in the fruition of their missions.
Andy follows a mantra from author Malcolm Gladwell, “Hard-working people are successful.” He is true to that statement as he works countless hours to help Squaw Valley and others companies in the area succeed and prosper through sound judgment and educated decision making.
I am in awe of how Andy does all that he does. There is much validity in the accolades for community service that organizations such as Disabled Sports USA – Far West and the High Fives Foundation have recently awarded him.
However, it is furthermore valid that the character of Andy Wirth, a man that is true to his word and always stays true to his word is illuminated. Andy Wirth listens, and just as the famed naturalist (and Western forest preservationist) John Muir said, “Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.”
I’ve yet to meet someone that epitomizes this statement better than he. Countless comments have been submitted to and received by Andy in the hopes of improving the planned expansion at Squaw Valley for all in this incredible community to agree upon and strengthen our overall economic presence. His actions have clearly spoken that he deeply understands the concerns of everyone that calls this area home.
There are few people who truly understand community more than Andy. He supports a large amount of aspects of our Lake Tahoe basin and there is no way he that he should EVER be a labeled as a puppet. There is simply not enough string to operate all the moving components of his good deeds to others.
He has done so much for this area in his several years as CEO. From revitalization, to providing the needed support to a family that lost their son and an icon to Tahoe, I appreciate his heart. Time and again, when the mountains speak, Andy not only listens, he provides.
Since Andy has moved to Tahoe, we have grown to be close friends and consistently talk about everything from football, to ski days, to how to recover from life-altering injuries (hat we’ve both suffered while enjoying the sports we love).
We have so much in common that numerous 30-mintue meetings often spill into four-hour sessions with great results. When I broke my femur, Andy was there to visit me in the hospital. When Andy needed advice on his path for recovery from his sky diving accident, it was a four-hour breakfast chat. Andy always ends every conversation with, “How Can I Help, you just let me know.”
Friends are there to help you be successful. No one is a better testament to that, with this, I would like to declare the comment made by Mr. Schectman as a derisive cut to the character of a person that has helped improve so many elements in this beautiful area.
We all know from the story of Pinocchio in that he is a puppet that wants to be a real boy. Andy Wirth is a great man, not a boy with strings, and in this world he is quite real and I am very fortunate to be able to call him a friend.
Roy Tuscany is a Truckee resident.