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Spotlight: Steve Raymond

Steve Raymond’s passion for helping disabled athletes began when a friend was paralyzed in a skiing accident. Since 1996, Raymond has filled his spare time supporting these athletes, most notably being one of the co-founders of SkiTAM, a cable industry fundraiser that benefits the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team and is the single largest source of support for the team. Recently, Raymond was honored with the role of serving as Chef de Mission for the 2010 U.S. Paralympic team. He spoke with staff writer Theresa Manahan about his new role.

Age: 50
New title: Chef de Mission of the U.S. team, 2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Current role: Senior vice president of national accounts for Disney and ESPN Networks
First job: Mowing lawns
College education: B.S. in journalism, University of Kansas (1982)
Resides: Centennial, Colo.
Grew up: Wichita, Kan.
Favorite vacation spot: Maui
Last book read: “Blackwater,” by Jeremy Scahill
Last movie seen: “The Hangover”
Favorite movie: “The Great Escape”
Favorite musician/band: Bruce Springsteen

What are your roles and responsibilities as chef?
I look at my role to be the biggest supporter of the team and biggest cheerleader for the events they compete in. The way this role works is it recognizes my support of disabled sports through the years. I show leadership of the teams through attending the events, and I interact with other chefs and delegations and represent the U.S. at those events.

Have you spoken with any of the former chefs?
Yes. The previous chef was Tryg Myhren, who is a mentor of mine and a pioneer in the cable business. I have spent some time with him, and I have attended the last two Winter Paralympics.

Tell me about the difficulties of balancing work at ESPN with your passion for supporting the Paralympics. Has being based in Denver hurt your ability to climb the corporate ladder?
I travel extensively. I go to Burbank, Bristol, New York and wherever our affiliates are … mainly in the Western part of the country. But Denver has always had a pretty strong connection to corporate offices for our cable affiliates, so I have been able to grow in my role here.

Have the injuries from the Iraq War, which has led to many more disabled athletes, helped create a stronger team than in years past?
Certainly one of the unintended outcomes is that there are U.S. men and women coming back with challenges, and it could be amputees … it could be paraplegics. I know there are several athletes on the winter side of sport that are Iraqi veterans that have focused their efforts on skiing and have really come up the ladder.

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