Earlier this week, SOS Outreach celebrated a major organizational milestone with youth participants, families, founders, corporate partners, staff, board members and community supporters.
On the 21st of December, 25 years ago, SOS was founded on Vail Mountain in partnership with Vail Resorts with a vision to mentor youth through snow sports and provide them with life-changing opportunities. Thanks to this incredible partnership, SOS has provided 1,738,008 hours of outdoor adventure, and 590,170 hours of positive mentorship for over 60,000 youth.
At Wednesday’s birthday celebration at the SOS offices in Edwards, CO, Arn Menconi, Founder of SOS, said, “We got these kids up there on the mountain, and we taught them how to snowboard and ski, and then we kept bringing back more and more kids. What we started to learn in the 90s is that you don’t teach someone how to snowboard and hope you’re going to change their life. You use snowboarding as the carrot to give them a greater opportunity to live a greater life.”
Since 1993, SOS has lived its mission to change young lives, building character and leadership in underserved youth through mentoring outdoors.
The impacts of SOS programs were highlighted as 13 year SOS participant Seth Bretta shared his life-changing experience, saying, “Over four years SOS gave me a spot to learn about who I was and I how I wanted to interact with the world around me … I moved into a program where I could really be a leader, as the person I wanted to be … That’s my word of SOS, ‘opportunity’ – to explore, to learn new things, and to be who you want to be, to be a leader.”
Bretta’s story highlighted SOS as a community for youth that would not have a community otherwise.
Seth Ehrlich, executive director, closed the evening’s remarks by sharing the incredible news of an increased matching gift challenge from Vail Resorts. In honor of 25 years, now through the end of the calendar year, Vail Resorts will match each new or increased contribution made to SOS Outreach dollar for dollar, up to $50,000.
Ehrlich also celebrated the event by saying, “Twenty-five years ago a small group gathered in Beaver Creek. Tonight we celebrated how the SOS Outreach community has grown into a force. We are many who are dedicated to providing opportunities for youth to thrive. Arn shared the founding vision for the org and program participants Seth and Michelle reinforced the power of our programs. Tonight was magical, and I will cherish it forever.”