SOS marks 15 years modestly |

SOS marks 15 years modestly

Dustin Racioppi
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado

BEAVER CREEK ” Arn Menconi says its hard to look back on the last 15 years and not think of anything else but the people who’ve made his now-wildly popular program, SOS Outreach, a veritable success.

Sure, he started the ski and snowboard program back in 1993, teaching local, underprivileged youth how to make it down a slope upright while imbedding a sense of personal and social responsibility into their heads. But, as he said Saturday at the base of Beaver Creek’s Centennial lift in front of a crowd of nearly 200 for the program’s 15th anniversary, it couldn’t have been done alone.

“Without the people who are standing up on stage, the volunteers, the mentors and you guys out there, we would not be able to give back to the people,” Menconi said.

And following the organization’s founding notions, Menconi deflected the attention of his organization’s anniversary and focused it on the people who helped him make it into what it is today ” an institution of learning that spreads across eight states and 40 resorts.

The organization handed out awards to Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and local developer Bob Hernreich for their contributions to SOS over the years.

“Every year he has come out to ride with you all, he’s helped out with training and making sure we were constantly at the highest level of charity work and youth-based development,” Menconi said, of Hernreich.

SOS board president Rob Veitch said Vail Resorts has been a faithful ally for more than a decade providing training, lessons, grants and letting SOS use the resort.

“Very few companies truly live by the notion of doing well and doing better,” he said.

It seemed that every passing of a microphone or a plaque cued participation in the modesty game, which Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz took part of when speaking about receiving the award.

“For us, we are so passionate about how fun it is to be on the mountain skiing and snowboarding,” he said. “While we may make our mountains available, it’s everybody from SOS who makes this exceptionally special.”

SOS, with the help of Vail Resorts, has made it a priority to expose minorities to its programs. Menconi said there’s a 50 percent minority rate of people 22-years-old and under, a sign the organization truly is reaching out.

“These sports are needing to grow…to maintain future participation,” Menconi said, “and what Vail Resorts and others that are giving to us are realizing, is that the long-term relationship we’re having with the students is long-term differences in their lives outside of the sport.”

The organization has obviously proven that. First year mentor Justin Eastling said he intends to stay with SOS for years to come.

“It’s a great organization,” said Eastling, 25. “They’re pretty much the reason I’m here and the reason I’m here is for the kids. If I didn’t stick with them for the next four years, it would be a big let down.”

For the students, SOS is a part of their structure, almost like the teachings and principles have been wired into their DNA. It’s something like that for 10-year-old David Yeo, of Eagle, who’s on his second year with SOS.

“I’ve learned five core values,” he said. “Integrity ” that’s my favorite because I use integrity a lot in school and with my friends and teachers.”

There’s also the bonus of honing his snowboarding skills, too.

But it’s more than just a ski and snowboard club. For many, especially Menconi, it’s a family. And one that keeps growing.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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