My personal favorite is the Jans Winter Welcome, an annual charity event created by our founder, Jan Peterson. Now in its 32nd year, the Winter Welcome raises money to benefit the Youth Winter Sports Alliance (YWSA), a non-profit organization based in Park City that supports local youth winter sports programs. Held just a few weeks ago, this year’s event raised nearly $400,000.
I have seen the results of the Jans Winter Welcome, up close and personal, when my son decided to “try” Nordic skiing a few years ago. Because of YWSA, he was able to participate in the Park City Ski Nordic Club and get his first taste of the sport without investing in expensive equipment.
Every Monday and Wednesday after school, I would drop him off at the White Pine Touring Nordic Track where expert instructors would outfit him in either classic or skate skis, boots and poles and teach him the nuances of Nordic skiing in fun and creative ways. One of his favorite games was when the coaches taught the kids how to get up from a fall on skinny skis. The instructors would pretend to “shoot” the kids and they would fall down giggling hysterically and then work at getting themselves upright again. That day when I picked my son up from the track, he couldn’t stop talking about the fun that they’d had.
By far his most memorable experience was after the 2010 Olympics when the club was enjoying a bluebird day cross country skiing in Round Valley. Billy Demong, the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in Nordic combined, dropped by to show the kids his new hardware. As Billy opened the box that displayed his gold medal, an audible gasp escaped from the crowd. And then Billy took the gold medal out of the box and passed it around to all the kids. “We used to keep these in the box, but then we learned that the more an Olympic medal is passed around and touched, the more likely we are to earn more,” said Billy.
That singular moment defined for me how the Jans Winter Welcome gives back to the youth of Park City – by giving our kids Olympic heroes to look up to. And by making an Olympic medal seem within the reach of every child. Including my son.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor of Jans.com