Steamboat Springs If Jazzel Gardea, 8, has a varied skiing style, don’t blame her. Last winter, the never-ever skier was the recipient of ski lessons provided by 15 volunteer coaches from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
“She made a request via the United Way’s Christmas wish list to learn how to ski,” Winter Sports Club Alpine youth program director Blair Seymour says. “That’s all she wanted.”
The club was contacted by Millie Beall, volunteering on behalf of Integrated Community, who got the city to donate a pass to Howelsen, Christy Sports to donate a season rental package and SmartWool to kick in long underwear. “When Jazzel’s mother made that wish, I jumped on it and immediately called the sports club,” Beall says. “She was super excited about it.”
That’s when the coaches came into play. Winter Sports Club coaches volunteered to take a two-hour shift every Sunday for 15 weeks.
“Once she learned how to ski, she found out she could do a lot more than she thought she could,” Seymour says.
And no one was more proud than her parents, who came to Howelsen to witness every single session. “They were super supportive,” Beall says. “Everyone was all beaming by the end of it.”
No one more so than Jazzel’s mom, Lucy. “Jazzel loved it,” she says. “And she is especially excited that she got good enough so she can now ski with her friends this year.”
While the Winter Sports Club regularly provides scholarships to underprivileged youths and those with special needs, this marks the first time it’s reached out to help facilitate a United Way Christmas wish. “It’s a really big deal for a family like Jazzel’s to be able to benefit from an opportunity like this,” says Sheila Henderson, who works with Jazzel and her family at Integrated Community.
Hopefully, it might lead to more such efforts in the future — depending, of course, on how the Jazzel experiment pans out. “She has a lot of joy and such a love of learning; it helps the instructor remember how much fun it is to ski,” says Winter Sports Club volunteer Cindy Arnis, who helped coach Jazzel.