“Carrying on his legacy:” MUHS senior, his father honor grandpa, help those who are blind enjoy skiing

MILWAUKEE -- Grandparents and grandchildren are often extremely close-knit, and it's that special bond that has a senior in high school honoring his late grandfather in a way that's also helping others.

"I was on skis as soon as I could walk," Michael Pasqua said.

The passion started early for Pasqua.

"I remember being up at our condo in Winter Park and getting my first pair of rentals and like, wanting to put them on on the floor in the living room, and I had my rental helmet and the skis on. I was ready to go," Pasqua said.

It's been all down hill from there, in a good way, of course, as Pasqua is on his skis as often as he can.

"I've been, like, racing and stuff, so it's just a huge part. I mean, I couldn't imagine life without it I guess," Pasqua said.

As a kid, he couldn't imagine life without his grandfather in Colorado, the person he shared all of his skiing experiences with.

"I talked to him about it and he was always super jazzed whenever we talked about it and stuff. He would come up when my dad and I were out there and he would just stay in the condo, and he always wanted to hear about our day when we came back," Pasqua said.

Kevin Pasqua

By the time Pasqua was on skis, his grandfather Joe wasn't anymore, but Joe used to ski frequently with Kevin, Michael Pasqua's father.

"He and I skied together literally 30 years, and just some of the things that we've been through together, everything from just doing runs that he'd never done before to having accidents that actually laid him up for a bit, so we've been through a lot together and for sure it drew he and I closer," Kevin Pasqua said.

It wasn't your typical skiing partnership, however.

"I was two years old when he went blind," Kevin Pasqua said.

But not being able to see didn't slow the senior Pasqua down. It actually seemed to speed him up on and off the mountain.

"He had to rebuild his career as an airline mechanic, which just even thinking of that in and of itself is phenomenal, but then just to have the courage to go 'I want to learn how to ski,' and then to do it and then to race, that takes even a different mindset because you kind of have to throw some abandon aside and go 'I'm just going to go for it.' He was literally a national champion three times," Kevin Pasqua said.

Joe passed away late in 2016, leaving behind a particular request.

"He asked us to donate some money to the NSCD because it was a big part of his career in skiing," Michael Pasqua said.

The NSCD, or National Sports Center for the Disabled is a therapeutic organization that provides leadership and expertise in adaptive sports.

"They literally help a couple thousand disabled skiers or disabled individuals every year gain an experience that they couldn't have experienced," Kevin Pasqua said.

But they lost a significant amount of funding when Sports Authority went bankrupt.

"Sports Authority donated about $25,000 a year for their ski equipment," Michael Pasqua said.

In December of 2016, Michael Pasqua came up with an idea to fill the void.

"If we don't, they're going to be substantially downsized because of it because they'll lose a third of their skis every year and they won't be able to service as many people. First up was get a website. It's 'Buy Joe's Skis,'" Michael Pasqua said.

"It's basically $20,000 a year, this many sets of skis. He said 'if we can get somewhere between 100 and 200 people to jump on board,' he says 'Dad, we can do this.' Who am I to get in his way? Right? I thought it was a great idea," Kevin Pasqua said.

"We have a donate page and a page explaining the program, so there's like six categories. You have anywhere from $50 to $1,000 so you can get in at ground level," Michael Pasqua said.

"We need to raise $20,000 a year, and then over five years, our goal is, we want to hit $100,000," Kevin Pasqua said.

Launching in April, Buy Joe's Skis is quickly getting closer to that goal.

"My dad would just be busting his buttons for sure," Kevin Pasqua said.

"I feel like this is my way of just carrying on his legacy in a way, and by doing this program I -- just something I can carry on with him," Michael Pasqua said.

Michael Pasqua is a senior at Marquette University High School, and a friend designed the logo for Buy Joe's Skis.

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