Vonn kicks off nonprofit with Vail event
VAIL — When Lindsey Vonn speaks to a crowd, it’s usually about skiing, or winning, or maybe her infamous knee. On Tuesday evening in Vail, however, the topic was girl talk.
Vonn and speaker and author Rosalind Wiseman partnered up for the Lindsey Vonn Foundation’s first official event, geared toward girls and their parents.
“Girls deserve very strong friendships that are based on respect and dignity,” Wiseman told the crowd at Donovan Pavilion. “Girls’ lives and relationships are very messy, and if we don’t acknowledge that, we lose credibility.”
She went on to talk about many of the constant issues that girls face in relationships — friendship, jealousy and betrayal. And she talked about how parents and their children can handle the problems and issues that come with adolescence together.
Supporting strong role models
Vonn’s nonprofit, which she announced in February, aims to help girls achieve their dreams, which the champion ski racer says can apply to a broad range of causes. Besides speaker series like Tuesday’s event, she’ll be supporting a girl’s empowerment camp in Vail in August, she’s sent several girls to ski camps in her home state of Minnesota, and she’s looking to give scholarships and partner with a number of other organizations around the country.
Wiseman is a Boulder resident who has become known as an expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice and ethical leadership. She is the author of numerous publications and books including the New York Times bestseller “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World,” which was the basis for the hit movie “Mean Girls.”
“Specifically what is powerful about supporting Lindsey is that she’s well known for hard work. Girls are fascinated by fame, but it’s often a fame that comes from want of attention or because they turn themselves inside out to look a certain way,” said Wiseman. “Lindsey is known for her incredibly hard work and for getting up after failure and difficulty. We should be focusing on the people who are known for hard work and achievement.”
On Tuesday, Donovan Pavilion had a swarm of young girls waiting at the door before the event, and soon the room was filled with giggling, glasses of pink lemonade and cute desserts. Autographs were signed, and pictures were taken with Vonn’s Olympic medals in a photo booth.
However, once the program started, Vonn and Wiseman steered the evening in a much more serious direction — and the girls listened with rapt attention.
“My goal is to empower all of you, and that’s in any way possible. Do you need a tutor because you’re struggling in science? Or you want to go to soccer camp? I will try to help you. I’m very fortunate to have had success in skiing because it’s allowed me the opportunity to be able to help all of you,” Vonn told the audience.
The Lindsey Vonn Foundation’s next scheduled event is a Vail girls’ camp at the end of August. The foundation will take applications through http://www.lindseyvonn foundation.com and will send a group of girls to the camp on scholarship. Beyond that, Vonn stresses that the Foundation’s efforts won’t just be focused on skiing, empowerment or any one topic.
Vonn, a star on and off the slopes, says she’s well aware of her influence on her young fans and personally understands the difference she can make.
“I’m in a unique position to have a positive impact on a lot of people, and I take that very seriously,” she said. “When I was a kid, Picabo Street had a really big impact on me, even though I only met her for 30 seconds. I knew after that I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. Another person I met really hurt me because they wouldn’t take the time to give me an autograph. So I know how 30 seconds with a kid can change everything negatively or positively.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.