“Now I’m fighting for something bigger than myself”
[ by Than Acuff ]
Halfpipe skier Aaron Blunck has been on the professional competitive scene since he was 17 years old and seen his fair share of massive success, disappointment and injuries over the course of his career. While the goal has always been to succeed in the sport and step on top of the podium, this season Blunck decided to take his efforts and ability in the “ice tube” beyond the sport and himself. As a result, Blunck joined the Living Journeys Athlete Corps to raise $60,000 by the time he slides to the top of the halfpipe at the 2023 X Games in Aspen January 27-29.
“I wanted to do something with more of a purpose at the X Games, more than just me,” says Blunck. “Now I’m fighting for something bigger than myself.”
The Athlete Corps has been a part of the Living Journeys fundraising portfolio for three years and presents a way for athletes to raise money through their efforts but with something bigger in mind.
“Our clients are the ones who benefit from the efforts of the athletes,” says Living Journeys board member and Athlete Corps member Pat O’Neill. “We win when others win.”
O’Neill approached Blunck last year while he was at the Olympics in China about becoming part of the Athlete Corps and that idea came to fruition as Blunck decided it was time to give back to the community. He started things off when he hosted a fundraiser for Living Journeys and the Crested Butte Avalanche Center over the holidays.
It was that night that O’Neill announced that Blunck was going to take it a step further and join the Living Journeys Athlete Corps to continue to raise money for the organization.
“Aaron and I are really close friends,” says O’Neill. “We’re blown away to have Aaron do the X Games as a Living Journeys athlete.”
“Pat O’Neill is such an inspiration, I mean he’s old and he’s still grinding,” adds Blunck. “He’s taught me there is so much more to life than contests and money. There’s humanity.”
And with X Games on the near horizon, what better time than now. But there’s more to it than the timing of X Games for Blunck given a recent loss felt by the entire Crested Butte community.
“Annie Coburn’s passing hit home for me,” says Blunck. “This one’s for the Coburn family and to let them and everyone else going through cancer and their families know that they’re not alone.”
As for Blunck’s current halfpipe season, it started back in December in Copper and when plans to do a filming trip were postponed due to conditions, he decided to return to the halfpipe circuit. He is in Calgary this week for the Snow Rodeo competition, the very venue where he won the FIS halfpipe skiing world title and took the coveted Crystal Globe.
“I don’t have any goals, just hoping to ski my best and give it my all,” says Blunck. “I’m healthy for the most part, still dealing with a shoulder injury. But as Herb Brooks would say, ‘the shoulder is a far way from the heart’.”
Blunck then returns to Colorado for the X Games and the goal of raising $60,000.
“I picked the amount of $60,000 because I raised $63,000 at a hundred miler and told him he should be able raise as much money as some old has-been,” says O’Neill.
“At the end of the day, if we raise $15,000 that’s great,” says Blunck. “I just want to shine a light. We all need that added support. For me, it’s about being strong enough to help others.”
The link to donate to Aaron Blunck’s X Games fundraiser for Living Journeys can be found on O’Neill’s and Blunck’s Facebook pages as well as on the Living Journeys website, livingjourneys.org. The hope is to hit the goal by the time Blunck is dropping into the halfpipe at the X Games January 27-29.
“We got Blunck in the LJ house! C’mon people,” says O’Neill.