Last Saturday night we had a send-off fundraiser for our three U.S. Ski Team Nordic athletes, Simi Hamilton, Noah Hoffman and Michael Ward, and it was a rousing success indeed. There was a silent auction, where so many individuals and local businesses contributed valuable items. Additional contributions were given, even without active solicitation. People stood patiently in line to make their donations. And there were over 250 people who enjoyed free pizza and donated Aspen Brewery beer from 5-7 p.m.
The three young men answered tough, and sometimes light-hearted, questions from local announcer Mike Trecker. They spoke confidently of their competitive schedules, and what their expectations are for the winter. They spoke eloquently about the issue of blood doping and drug use, making it very clear that the U.S. Nordic teams are vigilant in having clean and drug-free athletes. They spoke in favor of education alongside athletics, whereby you must keep your mind active and stimulated as you try to maximize your athletic endeavors.
We are indebted to the Limelight Lodge and the Aspen Skiing Co. for donating the space and many items to the silent auction. Aspen Brewing Company graciously donated beer for the event. And Art Burrows of Ajax Design did a fabulous job of designing the ads and posters for the event.
One would think that being named to the U.S. Ski team means that your expenses are fully paid. Hardly. The yearly costs that Noah and Michael will incur, as members of the “B” teams, will probably exceed $25,000 each. Simi was named to the “A” team — due to his inclusion in the FIS red group, the top international ranking — but he still has sizable costs that are not covered by the team.
Near the end of the evening Toby Morse, the AVSC Nordic director, stood up and made a plea for Aspen, the community and the town, to help fund these young men. It was a powerful statement that affected many in the audience.
If you were unable to attend and still wish to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Rocky Mountain Nordic Angel program (which helps to offset the training and racing expenses for those specific athletes) you can send a donation to: RMNAngel, 2613 Arroyo Drive, Durango, CO, 81301. It’s tax ID # 74-3145034.
Craig and Becky Ward