I am a long-time friend of the Staples family. Dona and Mark have lived in Park City for the last nine years. They have five children ranging in age from 9 to 19: Piper, Courtney, Max, Sydney and Kiley. Many of you may know them as "Team Staples." All five kids are avid ski racers. In fact, Kiley made it to the United States Ski Team three years ago and Sydney and Max are not far behind!
This summer a terrible tragedy struck the family when Mark died suddenly in July.
Mark was my best friend. I have known him since I was seven years old. We grew up together in Kaysville and started our families together. Family was everything to Mark. So was his love of the mountains and ski racing. When Mark wasn’t in his scrubs in the O.R. as an anesthesiologist, he was suited up and on the hill. Mark shared his love of skiing with each of his children as soon as they were old enough to walk and they all fell happily in love with alpine ski racing!
Bountiful was home for the Staples family, but it was a long way from Park City, a place he knew he needed to be closer to if they were to get the best training available. Mark was determined to do everything possible to realize the dream. Ski racing was the yarn that weaved their family together. Mark was dedicated to the idea that his children could achieve success in ski racing all the way to competition at the World Cup and Olympic levels. He lived to see the beginning of the dream come true when his eldest child, Kiley, raced in World Cup events for the U.S. Ski Team in 2007.
Mark’s death has left a huge void for the Staples family both emotionally and financially. For everything that Mark gave to his family while he was alive, he unfortunately left them with nothing after he was gone.
The Park City community and the family’s church have stepped up generously to provide some stability and keep Dona and her family in the Park City area and on their feet.
After nearly 19 years of being home with the children, Dona has started a new job. It’s an adjustment on top of all the other adjustments she is being asked to shoulder. But there are five children to provide for and just day-to-day living is expensive. She has had little time to raise the funds necessary to keep her kids skiing and racing even at a basic level.
The Park City Ski Team board of trustees has been working with Dona to apply for third-party grants and otherwise provide her with some time to figure out what will happen this year.
I have watched Dona wrestle with the fact that she may have to tell her children that they can no longer afford to ski race. It is gut wrenching.
So I am writing to the community asking for help. I realize that I am asking a lot. Ski racing is an expensive sport. There is a challenge grant of $7,500 currently on the table. If we can raise an equal amount we will give these five kids an opportunity to maintain a small part of continuity in their lives through this season.
While there may not be a way to continually provide for their racing, my hope is that we can find a way for them to do so this year. The one important connection that these children had with their father was ski racing.
If you want to help Team Staples, please contact George Woods Baker, the president and chair of the Park City Ski Education Foundation, at (435) 658-0087.
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Park City officials are preparing to take what is considered to be an important step in protecting the Treasure land from wildfires. City Hall in early June requested proposals from firms interested in the work.