Letter: Thank you to Vail Resorts Epic Promise from Red Ribbon Project | VailDaily.com

Letter: Thank you to Vail Resorts Epic Promise from Red Ribbon Project

"It's the little things that count" is often so true in this amazing Vail Valley, where nonprofit organizations are hard at work to change lives. Vail Resorts Epic Promise is generously supporting the work of Red Ribbon Project and its Youth Skills Building Program. The impact of this program is best told through a small moment with big impact by shifting one teenager's perspective to choice and hope.

Erik Williams is one of Red Ribbon Project's outstanding teachers working with the youth in Eagle County. His student Carlitos isn't always able to be in class because of the consequences of his choices. When he is in class, he is tough to draw out. Yet despite everything going on in the young man's life, Carlitos and Erik had a breakthrough.

Erik challenged the class to debate each other in two groups. The topics included bullying in school, death penalty and immigration. These are not easy subjects for this group, as they often deal with these issues first hand. Each was assigned to debate a particular side, regardless of their personal beliefs.

Carlitos tentatively raised his hand after a few minutes of discussion and stopped the room cold with an impassioned argument that was extremely articulate and well presented. It was one of those moments in time where everyone stops because something special has just happened. After a few more topics and more brilliant insight by Carlitos, the other team asked if he could be on their team moving forward. Carlitos' face lit up with the acknowledgment that he has a special ability for public speaking that can sway a room.

After class, Carlitos asked Erik how he could leverage this skill moving forward. Erik told him the world needs great speakers and they discussed the option of becoming a lawyer. Carlitos asked Erik if you had to be "super smart" to be a lawyer. Erik told him that in order to do anything, you have to work hard but it's within his reach. As Carlitos walked away he called over his shoulder, "I might be a lawyer someday!" These are the moments that make all of the hard work worthwhile.

Thank you, Vail Resorts Epic Promise, for making a difference by supporting the work of Red Ribbon Project and ultimately supporting kids like Carlitos in shifting their perspective to hope and choice.

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Denise Kipp

Executive director, Red Ribbon Project