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Essay contest winners hit the slopes

Dale Thompson, Of the Record staff
The winners of the Get to Know the Snow essay contest pose with Anne Fortney (left) and her children at Park City Mountain Resort. Joel Fine (middle) and Shelley Gillwald (right) also helped with the program.
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Park City elementary students got better acquainted with the snow this season in a new scholarship program titled, "Get to Know the Snow."

Children participated in an essay contest to win six weeks of ski or snowboard lessons at Park City Mountain Resort or the Canyons. Also included in the scholarship were lift tickets, transportation and equipment rental provided by Jan’s Mountain Outfitters.

Students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to ski or snowboard participated in the competition and wrote essays about why they would like to get to know the snow.

Winner, Jadyn Sullivan, a first grader from Trailside Elementary School wrote:

"I want to get to know the snow because I really love to learn new things. I want to be like my uncle. If I can learn to snowboard I can always go with him and have fun. I saved my own money and bought snowboarding gloves. I hope I can use them before they are too small.

I know I will love to snowboard because I like to go really fast. Even though my mom says I am her wild man, I will be OK because I will always wear my safety helmet."

His mother, Amber Sullivan, said he was thrilled with the experience.

"He loved it. He was sad that it was only six weeks," Sullivan added, "It’s great that they even have it."

A total of 10 full or partial scholarships were awarded to children who attend one of the elementary schools in Park City School District.

The scholarship was founded by Anne Fortney and Joel Fine, who both said they were looking for ways to give back to the community.

"We both really wanted to get involved in some type of charitable organization," Fortney said.

They agreed their project should be geared toward children and decided to offer a ski or snowboard scholarship to elementary students. Fine noted that with the cost of equipment and lift passes it’s an expensive sport, one they would like to make accessible to everyone. They also wanted to help students identify whether or not they had an aptitude for a specific sport.

"You don’t know who could be the next Olympic contender," Fine said.

With that idea in mind, Fortney and Fine approached Shelley Gillwald, executive director of the Youth WinterSports Alliance. They were in the planning stages from mid to late September, and saw their idea come to fruition in January.

In partnering with the YWSA they were able to develop a program that met their needs, while helping the alliance to get the word out about what winter sport opportunities are available to children.

"It’s really been a win-win situation," Fortney said.

The program also represents a partnership between the Parent Teacher Organizations that got involved, along with the school counselors, the resorts and Jan’s Mountain Outfitters.

Jan’s helped Fortney and Fine with fundraising efforts at their Winter Welcome, where they raised enough to provide eight $250 scholarships.

Some of those were split by schools and used as partial scholarships so that 10 children could be part of the program.

"They were truly ecstatic about being able to participate," Fortney said, adding that for many of the students it was their first time snowboarding or skiing.

Fine believes that having this opportunity can put a sparkle in students eyes.

"The program makes them feel special," he said.

It also gives them an opportunity to interact with their peers. The students participate in regular lessons with other kids, and are sorted by age and ability level. This gives them an opportunity to interact with their peers and to have the chance to make new friends.

Their one regret was not being able to give scholarships to all of the 20-25 students that applied.

"Every kid deserved a slot," Fine said.

Next year, Fine and Fortney would like to expand the program to include as many students as possible, while welcoming back this year’s participants.

Anyone interested in contributing to the scholarship contact either Joel Fine at: 435-901-1217 or joel 435-962-8949 or anne.fortney@meridiascapital.com .


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