EAGLE COUNTY — If you’re buying tickets for an event this summer anywhere in the valley, the chances are pretty good that at least some of your money is helping a local nonprofit.
The summertime in Eagle County is a time for giving. There are golf tournaments, galas, food tastings and bike rides, among other events, all supporting local charities that give back to the community.
Scramble against cancer
Today’s Scramble Against Cancer golf tournament, the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation’s benefit for the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, is celebrating its 15th year. The first 14 years have netted more than $1.5 million, money that has directly built and maintained the Sonnenalp Breast Center at the Shaw Cancer Center, said Michele Davis, the foundation’s executive director.
Last month, money raised from the Scramble Against Cancer helped purchase a $600,000 mammography system for the Shaw Cancer Center.
“This annual event is our biggest fundraiser of our year, with last year’s net of $65,000 donated to the Breast Center,” Davis said. “We also hold the Casual Classic Bike Ride — those proceeds go to ECOTrails and the Sonnenalp Foundation.”
Fundraising events held this summer have impacts that last throughout the year.
Events like the BecTri Duathlon and the Steammaster Golf Tournament, both of which benefit the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, or Tuesday night’s A Taste of Nature event benefitting the Walking Mountains science school, help keep these nonprofits ticking.
Star Dancing Gala
The Youth Foundation’s Star Dancing Gala, for example, raises one-quarter of its total annual budget in just one night. The fundraiser has become the largest single fundraising event for the Youth Foundation, said Katie Santambrogio, the Youth Foundation’s education development director.
The gala is an event modeled after the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars.” Local celebrities pair up with dancers for a night of entertainment at the Vail Valley Jet Center, attracting in the neighborhood of 850 people each year.
Money is raised through ticket sales, donations and sponsorships, as well as a live auction featuring once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
“We try to think about auctioning things on people’s bucket lists,” Santambrogio said. “Things you maybe just can’t go out and buy.”
The Star Dancing Gala has become one of the largest fundraisers in the valley
“We have an incredibly generous community,” Santambrogio said, adding that the foundation is so grateful for the support of the Star Dancing Gala because it is such a critical fundraising event for the organization.
Colorado-Eagle River Ride
SOS Outreach, an Edwards-based nonprofit that helps children make positive decisions through lessons in adventure sports, adult mentoring and community engagement, is gearing up for its largest annual fundraiser of the year: The Colorado-Eagle River Ride.
The cycling event challenges bikers to ride either a 100-mile, 68-mile or 42-mile ride through Eagle County.
“Being our largest event, it generates a significant level of awareness for us in the community,” said Seth Ehrlich, SOS Outreach’s vice president of operations. “There’s a huge value we recognize because of that.”
After all expenses, the River Ride raises about $40,000 for SOS Outreach. The ride kicks off in Beaver Creek July 27, marking the 12th year SOS has hosted the event.
Connecting with the community
Ehrlich thinks local charity fundraisers, especially the ones that involve sports, are so successful in the valley because the events are tapping into what people are inherently passionate about.
“We have people who wouldn’t necessarily reach out to SOS otherwise, but this is a way to engage people into the organization who may or may not get engaged based on what you’re doing every day,” Ehrlich said. “It’s also a good way to get your name out in the community — a way for us to market the organization.”
Like the Star Dancing Gala, Ehrlich expects about 850 riders to participate this year.
“That’s what’s very cool about this community — the number of people who get behind and support the organizations through these events,” he said.
The support buys people an exciting race, delicious food or live entertainment, as well as the good feeling of helping out a local organization that needs the help.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2983.