Kids get the gear to go fast in Eagle Co.
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS ” Kids stared wide-eyed at warehouse shelves stacked high one night last week with snowboard boots they would get for free this ski season.
Marisa, 13, was getting fitted with a pair of those boots at the “rental night” for members of Snowsports Outreach Society, formerly the Snowboard Outreach Society.
“Normally, I wouldn’t be able to afford it,” said Marisa’s mother, Laurie Trujillo.
Kids like Marisa got boots, a board and bindings to borrow this winter. Snowsports Outreach Society provides low-income kids ages eight to 18 with snowboards and other gear each season.
The organization’s Learn to Ride program gives kids five days of free instruction and lift tickets. Another one of its programs, SOS University, lasts four years. Kids get the same Learn to Ride deal, but also do some community service, such as walking dogs for the humane society or fixing trails at parks.
In the fourth year, kids do internships at local businesses and are taught how to write resumes.
Marisa does better in school and communicates better with people after her last two years with the program, said her mother, Laurie Trujillo.
“She’s a lot more mature than a lot of girls her age,” Trujillo said.
His first year in the program, eight-year-old Ernesto wants to learn how to turn, go fast and do flips, he said. “When you go fast, you feel the wind in your face and you feel like you’re in a competition,” Ernesto said.
Arn Menconi, founder and executive director, hopes that the organization will get more kids to graduate from high school and college, he said.
“The skiing and snowboarding is the carrot,” he said.
Teens may mentor younger kids in the program after they graduate from the university.
Taibi Giarratano, an 18-year-old mentor for Snowsports Outreach Society and Eagle resident, enjoys watching his students progress when they learn how to snowboard, he said.
“They might be scared to do it,” he said. “Now they can do it without really thinking about it.”
Joel, 9, hopes mentors in the program will help him improve his snowboarding during his first year in the program. Last year, Joel rode on greens and blues and this year, he wants to do a black diamond run, he said.
“I can go down the runs perfectly” Joel said. “But with SOS, I can do all the runs, like moguls and stuff.”
Snowsports Outreach Society is looking for snowboards, snowboard bindings, ski poles, jackets and snow pants that are in good condition.
To donate, go to http://www.active.com/donate/sos0708.
Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.