Endowment to boost winter sports for youth
The Park City-based Youth Sports Alliance is looking to create a $2 million endowment in the name of skiing legend Stein Eriksen to help developing athletes and needy kids participate in winter sports programs.
A gala last week at Deer Valley Resort's Silver Lake Lodge secured pledges of $600,000 toward that goal, said Aimee Preston, executive director of the alliance, a nonprofit established to carry out one legacy of the 2002 Winter Olympics encouraging future generations of youth to be active.
"We hope to create opportunities for all local youth to participate in winter sports and take advantage of the extraordinary winter-sports assets available in our community," she added.
Former ski racer and coach Jim Gaddis is directing the campaign, which received support at the gala from two-time Olympic gold medalist and Park City native Ted Ligety as well as Billy Demong, who has won gold and silver medals in Nordic combined.
"From our world-class venues to the recent success of Park City's own at the Olympics in Sochi, the Park City community is capitalizing on the values and culture that Stein Eriksen helped bring to our little town years ago," said alliance board president Geoff Buchheister.
"In honor of Stein," he added, "the endowment will ensure that the youth of Park City will be given the opportunity to chase their dreams."
The alliance supports 13 winter-sport teams, including 1,000 competitive junior athletes and a similar number of elementary students in "Get Out & Play" programs.
Funds will be used to help athletes in their late teens or early 20s who are on national teams (from skiers to lugers) but do not receive enough team financial support to cover all of their expenses.
Money also will go to needy youth, Preston said, noting that 22 percent of Park City students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.
The alliance's existing scholarship program provides about $50,000 to individuals and $250,000 to teams. Families of scholarship athletes have median incomes of $47,000 annually, she added.