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Eagle Valley senior looking for some help

Scott N. Miller
NWS Jimmy Benivedes SM 1-23
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GYPSUM – Jimmy Benavides doesn’t usually need much help.The Eagle Valley High School Senior is a tough competitor as a wrestler and a good student. He’s enlisted in the Army and reports for basic training this summer. But there’s one item on his to-do list for the year for which he needs some outside help.English teacher Jennifer Wright has put together a senior trip to Greece at the end of March. Benavides has signed up, but there’s one big hurdle to clear: Money.Between school work and wrestling, there aren’t enough hours in the day to earn the roughly $2,000 he needs for the trip. So Benavides is asking for help.Fortunately, Benavides has already gotten a lot of help. Sweetwater resident Dow Oaks can’t pay for Benavides’ trip by himself, but is helping him reach out to local business owners.”He’s just a deserving kid,” Oaks said. “I’m happy to do what I can.”

Business owners are regularly asked for money, merchandise or services to help kids’ trips or projects, and it’s not always easy to write a check.”There’s a lot of great causes out there,” said Peter Struve, owner of Mac’s Liquors. Some get checks from the store, some don’t, and Struve said his decisions are based in part on fact, and part on feel.”What I ask for is some kind of backup, I want to know it’s legit,” Struve said. “And some of it is the personality of the kids, what I see in their eyes.”Struve saw that something in Benavides, and said he’s willing to write a small check. Town councils are often asked to contribute to kids’ trips, too. In the western valley, Eagle’s town board has a policy of not donating to individuals. Gypsum’s town council makes contributions on a case by case basis and wrote a sizable check to help Benavides get to Greece. Oaks said the fund-raising for Benavides is now to the point that if any money is raised beyond what’s needed for his trip, that money will be forwarded to Kayla Martinez, another student hard-pressed to pay for her senior adventure.Benavides’ senior trip will be essentially his last fling as a kid. He plans to plunge into adulthood shortly after graduation.

He and his sweetheart, Crystal Atencio, plan to marry this summer, just before Benavides goes into the army in July. She’ll join him at whatever stateside assignment he gets after finishing basic training.Once in the army, Benavides plans to train as a military police officer, a career he wants to pursue in civilian life, too.”It just seems like an interesting job,” he said. “It seems like it would be exciting.”For now, though, Benavides is focusing on finishing out this wrestling season, his last. The regional and state tournaments are coming in February, and assistant principal Jeff Lueders, the school’s former wrestling coach, expects Benavides to do well.After that, Benavides can focus on Greece. But the prospect of visiting a new country excites him now.”I’ve never traveled out of the country,” he said. “I’ve never been on an airplane, either. I’m really excited to go.”



Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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