Joel Reichenberger: Weighing the worth

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

Writing sports in Steamboat Springs doesn’t always lend itself to weighty decisions, but I was conflicted last week when writing about a fundraising effort designed to benefit young Nordic combined athletes, most of whom live and train in Steamboat.

My concern wasn’t with the parents, coaches or athletes driving the campaign. Fund organizers hope to raise $250,000 by getting $25 donations from as many people as possible, much of that money going to help athletes who’ve outgrown juniors competitions but remain on the brink of the U.S. Ski Team.

I couldn’t help but wonder if they deserved my money. There are a lot of things worthy of donation. Why should a few mountain-town athletes hoping to make the Olympics deserve a share of my budget?

A regular drumbeat on my Facebook news feed recently has been about a guy I went to high school with, Nathan Winter.

I wasn’t very close to Nathan in school, and that hasn’t changed.

Nathan was diagnosed two years ago with a nasty brain tumor, an inoperable mass that’s proven depressingly tough to defeat. Some treatments have slowed its growth, but none has stopped it.

I remember Nathan, one class behind me, as boastful and proud but someone who combined those generally unlikeable characteristics in a way that was endearing.

Nathan began working as a firefighter in Wichita, Kan., in 2006, but his cancer and the resulting seizures forced him to quit. There didn’t seem to be many answers for his tumor until he was accepted for a special study at a hospital in Houston. The study isn’t covered by insurance, and his family and friends set out to raise the $100,000 required, a mission that could save his life.

My hometown has risen up to help Nathan, and I decided to help by donating $25.

With causes like that out there, can I really justify cutting in Steamboat Nordic combined athletes?

I can, and I did, adding $25 to the more than $37,000 that’s been raised.

I’m proud I can help our local athletes. It may seem unimportant compared to the many other causes, but the effort is meant to keep alive the dreams of local teenagers, and that’s something I can’t help but support.

If you’d like to help Nat­han, visit www.nathanwinterlifefund.com.

You can donate to the Nordic combined cause at www.ncgeneralfund.causevox.com.

Both are worthy of your consideration.

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