In 1972, when Kim and Rosie Batcheller moved to Breckenridge, Colorado, the ski area only included Peaks 8 and 9. It cost just $6.50 to get on the mountain. The Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 was not yet completed, and the population of Breckenridge was under 1,000.
The gold rush days of the late 1800’s were long in the past, and what you see today was far in the future. The Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center (BOEC) did not exist, but it turned out that the time was right for an organization providing outdoor sports experiences for people with disabilities and special needs.
Kim Batcheller during his time as Breckenridge Town Attorney
It wasn’t until the end of a year-long backpacking trip around the world that Kim and Rosie happened upon the town. Kim’s job with Denver’s Legal Aid Society had become defunded, so that work was no longer available. One of his professors from Denver University Law School offered him the chance to establish a legal practice in Breckenridge. Rosie and Kim bypassed Denver and moved the 80 or so miles to the mountains to start anew. Kim opened Merson and Batcheller. Rosie started working for the Breckenridge Resort Association.
Kim was with the law firm for less than a year when he decided to join Jack Healy’s law practice. In typical small-town fashion, Healy was the District Attorney, Breckenridge Town Attorney and Sanitation District Attorney. He also had a private law practice that included another lawyer, Buzz Larson. Later, when Healy retired, Kim did the work for the town and sanitation district, and Buzz took over the District Attorney’s position and private practice.
Interest in cross country skiing was growing. The Batchellers joined a group of residents who skied cross country together after work and on weekends, forming the Breckenridge Ski Touring Society. Returning from a trip back home to his native Norway, Olav Pedersen promoted the idea of bringing a version of the Norwegian Ridderennet (‘Race for Light’ in English) to Breckenridge. The participants would be visually impaired skiers from around Colorado, each paired with a Norwegian soldier guide. With Olav and Gene Dayton spearheading the plan and plenty of support, the first Ski for Light was organized.
“They asked people to sponsor and provide housing for the visually impaired skier and his guide,” Kim remembered. “A young man from Denver and a Norwegian solder stayed with us. The success of the event and the enthusiasm of people in Breckenridge led everyone involved to start talking about setting up an outdoor program for people with disabilities, eventually resulting in the creation of BOEC.”
Kim, as Breckenridge Town Attorney and acting on behalf of the town, assisted in the creation of BOEC by preparing the legal documents for incorporation as a non-profit corporation.
Kim and Rosie Batcheller 50 years after they moved to Breckenridge
Kim’s direct involvement was short-lived, as the Batcheller’s uprooted a year later in search of a warmer climate. Kim and Rosie moved to Micronesia, islands in the Western Pacific, where Kim worked on Palau and Saipan for the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands and later had a law practice. Rosie was a volunteer at Palau’s museum and then worked for Hyatt Regency Saipan. After 13 years in the Pacific, they moved to Texas, where they had a small cattle ranch, and then North Carolina, “… as we had never lived east of the Mississippi.” In 2011, the Batchellers moved to Portland, Oregon. Through all the years they retained their interest in and support of BOEC, taking them from early influencers to long-time benefactors.
“We knew early on that BOEC was a worthwhile project,” Kim said. “Rosie and I both had worked in Denver with underprivileged populations, and we’ve had a continuing affinity for people with needs.”
The two have followed the evolution of the BOEC very closely with yearly calls to learn of the most pressing areas. Their subsequent donation was either put into the general fund or earmarked for specific capital project needs. Either way, these were donations that benefitted both the BOEC and its participants in a very meaningful way.
“Throughout the years we have talked periodically with BOEC, asking how the organization was doing, trying to determine what we could provide that would be helpful,” said Rosie. “Our ongoing relationship has been based on BOEC’s periodic publications and our calls. Seeing how the organization has grown, reading what parents, participants, interns and employees say about BOEC all confirm that it is a nonprofit deserving strong support.”
And ultimately, because of the support of the Batchellers and the support of so many others, there has been steady progression into what the BOEC is today …. Something that Kim and Rosie are pretty enthusiastic about.
“We are very impressed with what the BOEC has become since the early years,” Kim said. “We have been delighted to see the expanding programs and increasing number of participants. It is clear that the amount of effort, work and money that goes into BOEC ends up providing the maximum benefit to the maximum number of people served while managing the resources on hand.”
So as you can see, for 45+ years the Batchellers have been part of the BOEC family. From the initial legal paperwork to yearly donations and support, one can honestly say that the BOEC might not be what it is today without the involvement of Kim and Rosie Batcheller. The BOEC is deeply indebted to them for their efforts, and for that we simply cannot thank them enough.