Vail Valley’s SOS Outreach prepares for big season |

Vail Valley’s SOS Outreach prepares for big season

Nathan Rodriguez
Special to the Vail Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Valley SOS Outreach students Xavier Mendoza, Bruce Eaton, Jonathan Cano, Morgan Rowles and Jesse Roy help clean up the Eagle River. The community project was one of the requirements for Eagle County SOS students enrolled in the multi-year University program.

VAIL –With Vail opening this Friday and Beaver Creek kicking things off next week, SOS Outreach will begin its 16th winter season giving local kids a chance to enjoy some time on the mountains.

This year, more than 500 Eagle County students will participate in snowboarding and skiing programs, with 170 of those students enrolled in SOS Outreach’s multi-year University program.

SOS founder and executive director Arn Menconi said the organization is ready for its most successful winter season yet.

“We’re really excited heading into the season for a number of reasons,” he said, saying the largest full-time staff to date would ensure 1,300 Eagle County kids will be involved in a total of 3,600 winter and summer programs this year.

“It’s great to see students return to the program year after year, and even better to see 15 students graduate the program and decide to return this year to mentor the younger students,” Menconi said.

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One such student is Irving Hernandez, who enters his 10th year with SOS Outreach.

“I knew I had to be a role model before (as a junior mentor), but now it’s an even bigger deal because the kids are always looking at you,” he said. “If you set the example, they’ll follow it.”

Hernandez said he hopes his experience will help some of the younger students who may be intimidated during their first trip to the mountains.

“It was very intimidating at first because I wasn’t used to it and was having a really hard time with it. I was more shy then, but time passed and now I’m the loudest one there,” he said.

The experience of Hernandez and others isn’t lost on Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, who looked forward to continuing the company’s close relationship with SOS.

“Working with SOS Outreach, we are able to give the experience of a lifetime to kids who may not have the opportunity,” Katz said. “SOS has taken the time to understand the best way to reach kids, and with the excitement of their first chair lift ride or their first turn, each of the SOS kids is an inspiration to every one of our employees who work with them. We hope the experience makes as big a positive impact on their lives as it has on ours.”

This season, SOS Outreach will serve 4,200 kids across 35 mountain locations, for a total of 20,000 participant days.

For more information, visit, or call 970-926-9292.

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