Each year, Pathfinder Award winners are selected from among nominations submitted by SCI Chapters and individuals. The award winners are honored during a SCI Convention evening event for their life achievements demonstrating their ability to overcome disabling obstacles while remaining engaged in outdoor activities, helping their community and inspiring others. The winners of this prestigious award receive an all-expense paid safari to Africa for themselves and a caretaker.
The SCI Foundation Pathfinder program also provides funding to SCI Chapters in support of their activities that engage disabled, terminally ill, wounded military and veterans in outdoor activities. Often, the reintroduction to nature and hunting helps these hunters find their way to adapt to their life changes and challenges.
SCI Foundation Announces 2017 Pathfinder Award Winner
Matt Cole served in the Marine Corps from 1999 to 2006 with a combined 4 years of active duty and 2 years reserve. He was a Crew chief of an Amphibious Assault Vehicle, commonly known as an “AMTRAK”. On May 17th 2005, while on his second tour in Iraq, Matt was wounded in action resulting in a spinal cord injury at T-8. After rehabilitation, Matt returned home to Louisiana and was medically retired in 2006. He then began helping other disabled veterans by volunteering with Support our War Heroes Foundation, which aids severely injured Post 9/11 veterans through advocacy and financial assistance as well as honoring those who were killed in action and Wounded War Heroes of America, which helps heal disabled combat veterans mentally and physically through outdoor recreational activities. In addition to volunteering, Matt worked for the Louisiana Dept. of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Assistance Counselor.
Matt’s work with nonprofit foundations and as a veterans service officer earned him Louisiana Veteran of the Year in 2012, the 2013 Southeast Louisiana VSO of the year and 2013 ACTIVE Partnership Disabled Employee of the year. He has also received awards and recognition from the American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of America. In addition to helping veterans, Matt serves as a Deacon at his church and regularly speaks at schools and community events. Matt enjoys hunting, fishing, marksmanship activities and spending time with his wife and three kids.
SCI Foundation Announces 2016 Pathfinder Award Winner
Ashlee Lundvall was an active teenager and four-sport athlete when she was injured in a ranching accident in 1999 while attending a youth camp in Wyoming. A tragic fall on to the wooden handle of a pitchfork blew out her back at T-12, resulting in a complete spinal cord injury and the introduction of a wheelchair to her life. After returning home to Indiana to finish her rehabilitation, Ashlee graduated from IUPUI in 2005 with a BS in Public Affairs, and completed her graduate studies in Biblical Counseling in 2007.
In 2007, Ashlee moved to Wyoming with her husband, Russ. She quickly immersed herself in the amazing outdoor adventures provided by the mountainous region, and in 2008 helped found Wyoming Disabled Hunters. Besides hunting, Ashlee loves fly fishing, camping, four-wheeling, kayaking, hand cycling, and tearing around in her Action Track Chair. She also enjoys passing on her love for the outdoors to her daughter, Addison, who was born in 2010.
Ashlee’s speaking career was reborn when she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA in 2013, and in 2015, she was given the Wyoming Trustee Award. Her first book, A Redefined Life, was released in February of 2016, and she was recently invited to join the National Pro Staff for Mossy Oak and the NRA’s Disabled Shooting Sports committee.
Ashlee truly shines as a keynote speaker at outdoor industry and disability related events and conferences. She is passionate about mentoring newly injured patients, and loves to pass on her love for adapted outdoor recreation!
A Pathfinder is “one that finds a way or finds a new route.”
SCI Foundation Pathfinders are people who are faced with challenges in life that causes them to find new ways to live and to overcome the challenge of being engaged in outdoor activities. These hunters also give of their time to help their community and promote hunting for other disabled hunters.
The SCI Foundation Pathfinder program provides funding to SCI Chapters in support of their activities that engage disabled, terminally ill, wounded military and veterans who are hunters into the outdoors. Often, the reintroduction to nature and hunting helps these hunters to find their way to adapt to their life changes and challenges and helping others along the way.
Click below to download Pathfinder Award announcement and application.
Applicant entries for this award must be received by September 15, 2019 and applicants must complete all application and eligibility requirements. For more information, contact Kathy Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call direct (520) 798-4892.