Jans Winter Welcome canceled, but fundraising for Youth Sports Alliance continues
The coronavirus forced the Youth Sports Alliance to not host the 40th annual Jans Winter Welcome, its biggest fundraiser of the year, in October. But that doesn’t mean the fundraising has been put on hold, said YSA Executive Director Emily Fisher.
“As a leader in the Park City youth sports community, we decided to go ahead and commit to raising $400,000, the same amount of money that we raise during the Winter Welcome every year,” Fisher said.
Jans Winter Welcome was established in 1980 by Jan Peterson, who started Jans Mountain Outfitters, to raise money for young athletes who could not afford to participate in sports.
Instead of hosting a crowded gala of people at Stein Eriksen Lodge in October, YSA is asking for direct donations through its website, ysaparkcity.org.
“In the past during the event, we’ve asked local companies and lodging companies to donate items and getaways for auctions, but some of those local businesses who have donated those things are also challenged by COVID-19 as well, so we didn’t want to burden them more,” Fisher said. “It’s also challenging to do virtual events and auctions.”
Some of YSA’s major donors who have supported the Jans Winter Welcome for the past 40 years have already raised $102,000, she said.
“We’re excited that we’re already 25% of the way there, but we have a long way to go,” Fisher said.
Half of the $400,000 would benefit the seven YSA-affiliated sports clubs — Figure Skating Club of Park City, Park City Ice Miners Hockey, Park City Ski & Snowboard, Park City Speed Skating Club, Utah Olympic Park Skeleton & Bobsled, Wasatch Freestyle and Wasatch Luge, according to Fisher.
“Money is vital to the smaller clubs,” she said. “For example, it pays for the whole season of ice time for the Park City Speed Skating Club, and we wanted to make sure we have seven vibrant sports clubs that different athletes can try.”
A quarter of the money would go to the Stein Eriksen YSA Opportunity Endowment that was established in 2016, shortly after the Olympic gold medal winner’s passing in 2015.
Money from the endowment provides need-based scholarships to local athletes, according to Fisher.
“Stein was such an inspirational person in the community, and he believed so deeply in helping the youth to enjoy the benefits of teamwork and camaraderie,” Fisher said. “Since 2016, the endowment has paid $450,000 for local athletes’ training fees and traveling expenses.”
The rest of the funds will benefit YSA’s after-school programs, Get Out & Play, for elementary school students, and ACTiV8, for middle and high school students, she said.
“We run these after-school programs on early-release days,” Fisher said. “They are focused on kids getting out and getting active. During the 2019-20 school year we had 1,700 local athletes participate in these programs.”
Although the landscape for the upcoming school years is hazy due to COVID-19, Fisher and YSA have at least six different plans that will help the children get active, she said.
“If we’re still in a yellow phase, we’ll just host activities in and around the schools,” she said. “If we’re green, then we’ll transport the students to different facilities.”
Canceling the Jans Winter Welcome was a hard decision for Fisher.
“The fundraiser has been the backbone of youth sports in our community for the last 40 years, but with what has been happening with COVID-19, we felt it was a prudent decision,” she said. “We just don’t feel like we would be able gather 425 people at Stein Eriksen Lodge in October.”
Once YSA canceled the gala, Fisher began working on different ways to fundraise.
“I didn’t want to forgo this year’s event and not continue the support we provide to the clubs,” she said. “I have a banner of Jan Peterson on my door that I look at every day, and I know he would not let a worldwide pandemic get in his way of helping the community.”
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Rich Wyman and Lisa Needham ready a Park88 live stream for Park City Institute.