Picabo’s Ski Challenge set for weekend
There’s a lot of magic in the mountains for Olympic legend Picabo Street. They allowed her to raise the publicity level of women’s alpine skiing, to ski her way into America’s heart as an Olympic medallist and become an ambassador to skiers everywhere.
But they’ve also granted her magic in her personal life. Prior to the 2002 Olympics, Street was skiing at Snowbasin trying to qualify for the Winter Games. At the same time, new resident Joan Hellstrom and her husband had just moved into a home near the Ogden-area resort and attended that race. Hellstrom started chatting with a spectator at the race about her love of Street. The man finally revealed that he was Picabo’s brother and offered to introduce her.
A few conversations later, Street learned that Hellstrom was serving as the statewide developmental coordinator for the Children’s Justice Centers in Utah. Talking evolved into a friendship that eventually included Street’s parents staying at the Hellstrom’s home during the 2002 Olympics. The most important outcome, though, was when Street agreed to be the national spokes person for the National Children’s Alliance.
The National Children’s Alliance, which includes Children’s Advocacy Centers and Children’s Justice Centers, is dedicated
to offering specialized community programs designed to provide a child-friendly environment for children who have disclosed sexual abuse and are the primary witness in the investigation of their case.
Street always knew that once her racing days were over, she wanted to help other children achieve their athletic dreams. But when she learned about the plight of abused children, it occurred to her that many children never even have the opportunity to live a safe and secure life, let alone work toward one day skiing in the Olympics.
"I realized I was leaving a huge group behind," Street said.
At that point, Street’s focus changed and she became committed to the cause of keeping children safe from abuse. After learning that one in four girls and one in seven boys under the age of 18 are abused, she was enraged and wanted to do even more.
"I was shocked," Street said. "There were so many children touched by this."
Thus, Picabo’s Ski Challenge was born. The first weekend of Sundance, Jan. 20-21, Street has invited actors, athletes and other stars to converge in Park City to enjoy the snow and the sights of the city and Sundance, while also working to raise money for the 600 Children Advocacy Centers nationwide.
"Picabo’s made a huge impact on bringing awareness to the Children’s Justice Center and Children’s Advocacy Centers," Hellstrom said.
The weekend will include intimate morning skiing for title sponsors at PCMR and Deer Valley, as well as a VIP reception dinner party at Hotel Park City on Saturday, and a day full of racing and fun at PCMR on Sunday. Street hopes to combine a fun and festive atmosphere, while at the same time letting her guests know that there is a solution to child abuse. She plans to share other ways to help the cause, such as working with the program or donating money.
"There will be a few different points throughout the weekend," Street said. "There’s a lot of opportunity to learn."
Street will also welcome a number of big names in the sports and Hollywood world. Already slated are Bill Rancic, the first winner of "Survivor", Tara Reid, Billy Bush, Hill Harper, Senator Bob Bennett and Chad Hedrick, an Olympic gold medallist in speedskating.
But even with those big names, the highlight will be Sunday’s festivities, where Street plans to take the first run and then watch teams of four battle it out on the mountain. After that, there will be an après ski party with an awards ceremony, music, karaoke and other activities. She says that just interacting with the guests and watching them enjoy themselves will be the most memorable for her.
For more information on becoming a part of the Picabo’s Ski Challenge or making a donation to the National Children’s Alliance, visit http://www.picaboskichallenge.org.
The event will feature a VIP reception dinner party at Hotel Park City on Jan. 20 from 7-8 p.m. as well as an amateur ski race and après ski party at Park City Mountain Resort on Jan. 21 from 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. All proceeds from Picabo’s Ski Challenge will benefit the National Children’s Alliance and over 600 Children’s Advocacy Centers nationwide.
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