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Mentors are there for Eagle Co. kids

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyMentor Kelly Schrader, left, and buddy Patricia, 11, hold on to each others as they tube down Adventure Ridge Monday.
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VAIL, Colorado ” Heidi, a bubbly 11-year-old with a constant smile full of braces, and her mentor, Holly Tranter, are heading for the tubing hill.

Heidi is showing Tranter a dance medley that she made up with her friends.

“And then we go, ‘One, two, three, four,'” Heidi says, going through her choreography. “And then we do, ‘We will, we will rock you.'”



They stop to get warm beverage on this frigid Monday night atop Vail Mountain.

“We’re just going straight for the hot chocolate,” Tranter says.



As they wait, Tranter explains to a visitor what it means to be a buddy. She and Heidi hang out of few times each month.

They bake. They decorate. They go on hikes. They dress up Tranter’s dogs in silly costumes. They go to movies.

“Have you seen Alvin and the Chipmunks?” Heidi says, adding that it’s really funny.



Bottom line, Tranter says, is that she’s there when Heidi needs her.

“She always knows where she can find me,” said Tranter, an Edwards resident and elementary school teacher.

Now they are out in the cold again, bundled in coats and hats and ski pants, approaching the tubing hill.

“Look how steep that is,” Heidi says. “It’s scary.”

They wait in line. The lift brings them to the top of the hill. They slide down, screaming. Later, they reappear at the bottom.

“When you first go down, it’s like (gasp),” Heidi says. “But then it’s OK.”

“I was screaming at the top of my lungs,” Tranter says, getting in line again.

Heidi and Tranter have been buddies for four years, since Heidi was 7.

“She’s grown up a lot,” Tranter says.

Their conversations are now, at times, more mature.

“Relationships, family, her future,” Tranter says. “We get into that a lot. She’s really smart. She gets great grades.”

“She’s, like, my friend,” Heidi says. “That I tell anything to.”

Heidi and Tranter are at the holiday party for Buddy Mentors, a program that matches adults with kids who benefit from having a good role model.

There are many reason why kids get referred to the program. Sometimes, there is just one parent at home. Other times, parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and don’t have a lot of time to spend at home.

“The purpose of it is to give the kids a broader perspective, not only of the community they live in, but of life in general,” says Narda Reigel, the program’s director. “We want to give them tools to make positive choices in their life, for now and in the future.”

Mentors sometimes must help with facets of life that many consider to be basic. One mentor told of explaining to his buddy how credit cards worked.

Many more adult mentors are needed ” at least 25 now, and that number is growing.

“Every day the schools are referring another child to us,” Reigel says. “We could match up a kid a day with an adult, and it still wouldn’t be enough.”

The program asks mentors for a one-year commitment of meeting once a week for two to three hours with their buddies.

After a few runs on the tubing hill, Heidi and Tranter come inside to Eagle’s Nest for dinner. Santa hands out presents. Heidi’s name is called, and she rushes up to the bearded man in red.

She rips off the wrapping paper. It is fluffy, pink footwear.

“Slippers!” Heidi says.

“You can never have too many slippers,” Tranter says.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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