The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center — a Breckenridge-based nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the potential of people with disabilities and special needs — announced Thursday that a sports program for local youths will take place this winter after a hiatus due to a lack of funding.
Outdoor Education Center spokesman Barry Rubenstein said the nonprofit has teamed with Alpine Bank, The Summit Foundation and Mountain Mentors to resume the Snow Sports Alliance program. Rubenstein said the financial backing of Alpine Bank helped bring the program back.
Rubenstein said the program gives Summit County youths, who otherwise would not be able to afford skiing and snowboarding, the chance to be involved in outdoor winter recreation. Along with the funding from Alpine Bank, Rubenstein said The Summit Foundation will provide scholarship assistance.
The spokesman added that the program historically had included a highly subsidized cost to participants, but thanks to sponsorships, all students are able to participate for free this year. As part of the program, each student receives 10 small group ski or snowboard lessons from Outdoor Education Center instructors, transportation to and from the ski resort and the center, season long rentals through Blue River Sports and a season pass through Vail Resorts’ EpicPromise Foundation.
Outdoor Education Center Executive Director Sonya Norris described the program’s positive development in a statement as something that shows community support considering all of the various entities coming together to make it happen.
“This is a true reflection of what Summit County is all about,” Norris said.
To celebrate the program resuming, the center will host representatives from Alpine Bank, Mountain Mentors and The Summit Foundation on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Outdoor Education Center’s Adaptive Ski and Snowboard School at Breckenridge Ski Resort for skiing with the program’s participants.
The Snow Sports Alliance Program began in 1997 thanks to the late Bob Redman, a merchant, snowboard enthusiast and Outdoor Education Center instructor. Redman’s vision was to allow for any young person, regardless of their socio-economic situation, the opportunity to enjoy skiing. In winter 1997, Redman was killed in an on-mountain collision while instructing his first group of Mountain Mentor children.
Since that time, Rubenstein said the staff at Mountain Mentors and the Outdoor Education Center have worked diligently to ensure Redman’s vision continues, now into its 21st year.