Small Champions close season with fun race and picnic
Small Champions held the end of season fun race and family picnic at Golden Peak on Sunday, April 10.
Having not been able to hold this gathering the past two years due to the pandemic, it was meaningful to have all of the Small Champions, their families, friends and instructors together to celebrate an amazing ski season and the accomplishments of these special kids.
Small Champions is a nonprofit sports and recreation program for children in Eagle County with cognitive and physical disabilities. The organization was created to give kids the opportunity to pursue all of their own dreams and goals and instill in them the growth, confidence, belonging, and determination that will set the direction for their entire lives.
Founded in 1996 with five kids learning to ski, the program has since grown to a year-round operation for over 70 kids, offering a variety of sports in this active community, including horseback riding, swimming, rock-climbing, paddle-boarding, gymnastics and yoga. A child with disabilities participating in a sport they once thought was impossible allows a family to dream big for their child’s potential.
For the ski/ride program, each kid is paired with a trained instructor from the Vail Adaptive Ski/Ride School throughout the season, creating a trustworthy rapport. Friendships are formed and self-esteem is built among the kids. “It really isn’t just about learning to ski/ride as it is about the socialization, the feeling of committing to something and the achievement,” Executive Director John Weiss explained.
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The race day is significant because the social aspect can have momentous results. “My students come back to school and talk about their fun weekend skiing with their coaches and friends. As a special education teacher, I am grateful for the dedication that Small Champions has for our community, families, and our students with special needs,” one Eagle County teacher commented.
Each day on the hill is impactful, but on the last day, it’s especially profound. Family and friends gather to cheer on their Small Champions alongside instructors as they make their way through the racecourse next to the Elvis Bahn in Golden Peak. They were awarded medals and ribbons to congratulate them for their seasonal triumphs.
Afterward, a potluck featuring BBQ from Moe’s was held in the Children’s Center as an opportunity for the kids, their families and friends to party and convene with this unique network of support. Over the years, it has become a vital tradition.
To learn more, visit website SmallChampions.org or contact John Weiss or Kenzie Grant @firstname.lastname@example.org 970-376-5680.