Wife of Vail chief made an impact on Eagle County
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” From helping cancer patients to making life better for injured veterans, Cheryl Jensen wasted no time getting involved in the Vail community when her husband, Bill, become the mountain’s chief operating officer in 1999.
That’s why Tuesday’s announcement that in June, her husband would become the chief executive officer for Intrawest in Vancouver, Canada, turned some thoughts to the void that she will leave.
“Cheryl has been a huge contributor to this community,” said Suzy Donohue, who has known Jensen for 15 years and worked with her on various volunteer projects. “It’s in her soul to do kind things for others.”
In 2000, Jensen started a program called Sharing Warmth Around the Globe, finding a home for retired Vail resort uniforms that were sitting in storage. In its first year, she sent more than 5,000 uniforms to needy people in Kosovo; she has since recruited more than 50 ski areas from around the country to donate 100,000 coats to 22 countries each year.
The success inspired Jensen to do more for the valley, from helping wounded veterans enjoy the valley’s outdoor opportunities as executive director of the Vail Veteran’s Program to working as a member of the Shaw Outreach Team, which built Jack’s Place, a 12-bed facility that allows out-of-town cancer patients to stay next to the Shaw Cancer Center.
“You don’t have to have all this vast experience to help out,” Jensen said in an interview last month. “You just have to have your heart in the right place.”
In addition to volunteering, which she called her “passion in life,” Jensen is an avid golfer, skier, trail runner and traveler who recently trekked through Bhutan and Nepal. It’s unclear how much time the couple will spend in Vail come June ” Donohue said she’s not even sure if the Jensens know yet.
“It’s hard to imagine her not being here all of the time,” she said. “She’s practically like family.”
Longtime Vail residents Rod and Beth Slifer particularly remember Jensen’s efforts to help severely wounded veterans.
“I think all the locals thought they were a permanent part of the community,” Beth Slifer said. “And we will miss them.”
George Gillett, president of Booth Creek Ski Holdings and former owner of Vail Associates (now Vail Resorts), also had praise for Jensen.
“Cheryl has had a major impact on every community she’s ever lived in,” he said.
Jensen, who lived in Lake Tahoe and Breckenridge prior to Vail, called the valley “by far the most giving (resort community) I’ve lived in.”
Though Jensen is “feeling positive” about the move, Donohue said, if she also feels a hint of sadness, that’s reflected in the community.
“It is bittersweet,” Donohue says. “This is a wonderful opportunity for Bill, and Cheryl will be a terrific partner in this new adventure.”