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Taste of Vail toasts kids charities

Daily Staff Report
Photo courtesy Taste of VailLee Jones, center, works with students in The Youth Foundations Academic Soccer Program, which combines education with athletics.
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VAIL Local kids were the top beneficiaries of funds generated this years Taste of Vail culinary and wine festival.Organizers of the April event recently agave out $29,300 to a dozen local charities. I think this is fantastic, says Paul Ferzacca, owner and chef at Vails La Tour restaurant, as well as a member of the festivals board of directors. Its really nice to see this all come together, with one of the best events in the country giving money to programs that do a lot of good around here.The newly created Taste of Vail Educational Scholarship a joint effort with Eagle County Schools and ProStart, a culinary and hospitality education program received $10,000. Four Battle Mountain High School students who participated in the ProStart program this year seniors Andy McNeill and Melissa Hines, and juniors Colby Lefebvre and Cam Lewis received $2,000 each to help pay for college tuition and future culinary and hospitality studies. Another $2,000 is earmarked to help pay for expenses incurred by next years ProStart program at Battle Mountain High School.I cant tell you how much we all appreciate what Taste of Vail has done for us, says Sharon Wible, who teaches the ProStart class at Battle Mountain High School. The kids are so excited to receive these scholarships. Theyre extremely thankful, and so are their parents.Taste of Vail also donated $10,000 to the Youth Foundations Academic Soccer Club. The program in which more than 350 middle school students participate in each combines literacy with an organized soccer league for kids identified as at risk when they are away from school.The biggest draw of all for kids here in the Vail Valley is soccer, but this program doesnt receive the funding a lot of others do, says Lee Jones, recreation director for the Youth Foundation, which administers the Academic Soccer Club. Taste of Vails donation will help with scholarships and allow us to broaden the net.

The balance of Taste of Vails proceeds this year was distributed among the following local charitable programs: Border to Border USA, founded by local Joel Fritz in 2000 to raise funds for pediatric HIV/AIDS research through adventure bicycle rides. Cancer Caring House, which provides cancer patients and a family member or caregiver with a place to stay while being treated at the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. Casino Night, an event held every spring at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa that benefits local early childhood programs throughout Eagle County. The Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound program at Minturn Middle School. The Literacy Project, which provides free tutoring to local middle school students and illiterate adults. The Red Ribbon Project, an HIV/AIDS program in Eagle County. Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation, which helps provide health care and education to county children. Vail Mountain Rescue. The Vail Jazz Foundation. Vail Valley Home Health Care & Mountain Hospice.Taste of Vail has contributed more than $330,000 to Vail Valley charities. The 17th annual Taste of Vail is scheduled for April 11-15, 2007. For more information about Taste of Vail, visit http://www.tasteofvail.com or call 926-5665. Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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