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Former Navy SEAL, Chris Fussell joins Almost Heaven Classic keynote panel

West Virginia Press Association

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Mountaineer Media has announced Chris Fussell as the third and final panelist for the Almost Heaven Classic keynote discussion at Adventures on the Gorge on Friday, June 7th.

Fussell, president of McChrystal Group, former Navy SEAL, and owner of Water Stone Outdoors in Fayetteville, will join Curtis Fleming and Jina Belcher on stage to discuss how outdoor recreation is playing a pivotal role in West Virginia’s economic turnaround.

Fussell brings a wealth of experience in cross-functional collaboration, knowledge sharing, and decision-making from his time in Special Operations, applying these skills to help large corporations navigate challenges similar to those faced in the military.

“I’m honored to be part of this exceptional initiative created by Mountaineer Media. The story of West Virginia has been told by people outside of the Mountain State for too long.  Since Holly and I moved to West Virginia, it’s been incredible to see our state officials, and exceptional leaders like the Mountaineer Media team, reclaim that story and let the world know how amazing this state truly is.”

– Chris Fussell

Joining McChrystal Group in 2012, his military career spanned over 15 years across various combat zones, including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa. His transition into the corporate world is anchored in his firsthand experience in leading SEAL teams and witnessing the transformation of the Special Operations community into an agile network, especially during his time as Aide-de-Camp to Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal in Iraq.

Choosing West Virginia: Chris & Holly Fussell’s Path to calling Almost Heaven Home

In 2020, the family of four embarked on a new journey, relocating from Capitol Hill to Fayetteville, West Virginia, a place where they’ve maintained a residence since the early 2000s. Over the past two years, they’ve been dedicated to finding meaningful ways to contribute their time and energy to the cherished community.

The opportunity to acquire Water Stone Outdoors materialized through a series of engaging discussions with the previous owners, marking a significant step in their commitment to the local area. Holly manages the day-to-day operations at Water Stone, while Chris continues to engage deeply in his consulting work. Together, this dynamic duo is fully committed to West Virginia. (Full Story by Daily304 in 2022.)

Holly & Chris Fussell (right) pictured with
Kenny Parker, Gene and Maura Kistler
outside Water Stone Outdoors.

Water Stone Outdoors has been a cornerstone for rock climbers and outdoor aficionados in the New River Gorge area since its establishment in 1994. Founded by Gene and Maura Kistler, along with Kenny Parker, the store has not only supplied top-quality gear but also dispensed invaluable advice to the outdoor community. The trio has played a pivotal role in sculpting the landscape of the Gorge’s outdoor recreation economy, contributing significantly to its growth and vibrancy.

Their enthusiasm for the region’s potential in the tourism sector was contagious, and they found the perfect successors in the Fussells, who share a deep understanding of the community’s fabric and the untapped opportunities within West Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy.

2024 Almost Heaven Classic: New River Gorge

The Almost Heaven Classic is Mountaineer Media’s flagship gathering of passionate West Virginians who want to see the state succeed, grow, and prosper. It provides a unique platform for collaboration and connection between small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and aspiring professionals across West Virginia.

Star USA Federal Credit Union is returning as the proud presenting sponsor and a portion of the event revenue will support the Almost Heaven Scholarship Fund, a non-profit entity created to support the educational endeavors of deserving high school seniors in West Virginia.

The two-day weekend offers professional networking, an engaging panel discussion, and flex time for company off-site meetings. Friday serves as the state’s most inclusive professional event, with people from all over the country planning to attend. Day 2 of the AHC features a competitive golf outing at Glade Springs Resort, where 30 teams will compete for glory on the renowned Cobb Course.

In 2023, more than 200 passionate West Virginians made their way to Canaan Valley for the inaugural celebration, which created a $150,000 economic impact on the region. For 2024, we’re expecting the economic impact number to reach $250,000.

June 8th 2023, featured a jam-packed Canaan Valley Resort where attendees heard from Brad Smith, Sarah Biller and Brandon Dennison. Mountaineer Media Co-Founders CJ Harvey & Cooper Simmerman showcasing the AHC Winner’s Jacket, custom made by Tony the Tailor of Charleston.

Intimate Live Concert Experience Added to the AHC Weekend Agenda

When Philip Bowen takes the stage around 9:00 PM  at Adventures on the Gorge, he’ll be doing so just miles away from his hometown. He’s ready to bring the soul of Appalachia to life through his music in our nation’s newest national park!

Your Friday Ticket includes: entry to the professional networking session & panel discussion, a bite to eat and adult beverage, ending with a live onstage performance!

Mountaineer Media has already announced several nuggets about the 2024 Almost Heaven Classic, including:

Secure Friday Ticket Here

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