Excel Gymnastics hopes fundraiser flips its fortunes | SteamboatToday.com

Excel Gymnastics hopes fundraiser flips its fortunes

All-day open house at Steamboat gym Sunday aims to keep the doors open

Luke Graham

Gymnastics coach Kim Jones works with 4-year-old student Finley Danielson on Friday morning at Excel Gymnastics in Steamboat Springs.

— Summer Walker knew the conversation was coming. But how, Walker thought, do you tell your 5-year-old daughter she might not be able to do one of her favorite things anymore?

"I tried to explain it to her" Walker said Friday. "It's hard explaining something like that. Of course she started crying."

But that is the reality. The slow economy and dwindling enrollment numbers are catching up with Excel Gymnastics.

The gym in west Steamboat is facing the possibility of closing its doors.

"We've managed to hang on the last three years," owner Mike Smith said. "Our spring enrollment is down. Time has caught up with us."

Smith hopes an open gym fundraiser and summer program registration day Sunday will save the gymnasium from shuttering its doors.

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For a minimum donation of $20, preschool-age children can use the gym from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The gym will be open to elementary school-aged children from 1 to 3 p.m., to middle schoolers from 3 to 5 p.m., and to high schoolers and adults from 6 to 8 p.m.

There will be a donation wall with gold, silver and bronze medals. A gold donation is $250 or more. A silver donation is $100 to $249, and a bronze donation is $20 to $99.

Those who can't make Sunday's event can donate by calling 970-879-3467, by dropping off a donation at the gym or by mailing one to Excel Gymnastics, 1955 Bridge Lane, Suite 1500, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487.

Sunday's fundraiser will feature 2004 Olympic silver medalist Jason Gatson and former women's national team coach Gary Goodson. Goodson was the coach of notable gymnasts Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes, among others.

Smith said his facility serves a function greater than just gymnastics classes. It also hosts birthday parties, cheerleading classes, dance classes, parkour classes and martial arts classes.

Smith said donations will help the gym make it to its summer programming. He said they have a long-term plan in place if they can make it over this immediate hurdle.

Because it's a Summer Olympics year, Smith said Excel Gymnastics is expecting a bump in enrollment. The first lease on the equipment has been paid off, and the next two lease payments are to be paid off in the next year.

"We just need to get through some of these short-term shortfalls," he said.

The gym has more than 1,100 families in its database, and Smith guessed that it has worked with more than 1,800 children.

"With birthday parties, I bet there is not too may kids that haven't been in the gym at least once," Smith said.

Families like the Walkers say they rely on the gym.

Walker said she has 3- and 5-year-olds who do gymnastics. Neither is interested in skiing, so she said Excel Gymnastics provides a good outlet.

"It's a good thing to do for their mental and physical health," she said. "And mine."

If the gym were to close, Walker admits she wouldn't be sure what she would do. She does know if it comes to that, Steamboat is losing a unique place.

"It's a big part of our life," she said. "It's such a great building block for any sport. I'm not sure what we will do, but we'll be very upset. It will be heart-breaking for our family."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday

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