None of us popped into this world being full-fledged skiing or snowboarding fanatics. We all needed someone or something to show us the way to the slopes, especially when we were young.
But what about those kids who have neither the means nor the opportunity to get bitten by the snow sports bug?
Well, there is a movement afoot to help rectify matters, and it’s known as the Share Winter Foundation.
Founded nearly a decade ago as the National Winter Sports Foundation, the grant-making organization, which was rebranded as Share Winter this past summer, has been working to improve kids’ health and fitness through winter sports activities, particularly skiing (both Alpine and Nordic) and snowboarding.
Kids from all over
“We’re all over the country,” said Share Winter CEO Constance Beverley, “trying to do what we can where we can. … We focus on kids who are not exposed to winter sports.”
While many of these youths come from cities and states not necessarily directly or generally associated with skiing and snowboarding, Beverley says there are kids from such mountain-centric places as Reno and Salt Lake City who have benefited from the program.
“We look for socio-economic diversity, all kinds of things,” she said. “We prioritize for kids that really need the money. … We fund every permutation of every youth ski program.”
Last winter, Beverley’s organization, which had been privately funded, provided enough wherewithal to help 38,000 kids get the opportunity to ride and slide at more than 60 resorts nationwide.
But with a goal of getting 100,00 new kids per year on the hill by 2028, the foundation began publicly pushing for funds and sought help from the industry itself.
And it has responded.
The Snowsports Industries America (SIA), a non-profit, member-owned trade association representing snow sports suppliers, retailers, sales reps and resorts, recently joined forces with the Share Winter Foundation, and the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), a trade group of 300 resort owners and operators, each kicking in $40,000 and challenging the rest of the industry to match those funds.
“We’ve gotten amazing support from (SIA and NSAA), where previously we got zero dollars from the industry,” Beverley said. “This is a massive opportunity; everyone will benefit from this. You (the ski and snowboard industry) are looking at future employees, future customers.”
Beverley isn’t only looking at snow sport resorts, manufacturers and other ancillary businesses for donations; she is actively seeking support from those already bitten by the winter sports bug.
It’s called paying it forward.