SOS kicks off winter season |

SOS kicks off winter season

Scott Cunningham

The Snowboard Outreach Society, a local non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth, kicked off its ninth season Sept. 22 at the Eagle-Vail Pavilion.The event was the first gathering of participants in the University Program, a four-year curriculum that combines days on the mountain with community service requirements. For those kids who complete the program, SOS will work to secure scholarship money for college tuition, according to community outreach coordinator Mike Gehard.”That’s the beauty of this program,” he said. “It’s about serving other people.”The 60 participants who gathered at the pavilion, up from 45 the previous year, were divided into 11 groups, each of which is presided over by a “Sherpa,” an adult volunteer who guides his or her students through the program. The kids, according to SOS director Ann Menconi, come from 16 different area schools and can earn high school credit for participating or get coaching from Ski Club Vail.”It gets bigger every year,” said curriculum coordinator Seth Blackmer.Everyone in attendance was treated to a speech on the virtues of discipline by U.S. Ski Team racer Chad Fleischer of Vail, who gave out ski team hats and T-shirts.”Being involved in programs helps you learn about yourself,” Fleischer said.After the talk and a luncheon provided by SOS, the group participated in the Eagle River Cleanup. Red Sandstone 5th-grader Nate Vasquez said that he’s not doing the University Program for the free days on the mountain, but for the community service opportunities. “I like to do lots of volunteer work,” he said.

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