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Ski Day for United Way

Strengthening Communities Through Skiers/Snowboarders
   Ever wonder how skiing and snowboarding support the needs of the community?  For the United Way of Cattaraugus County, every skier and snowboarder counts at the organization’s annual Ski Day for United Way, held each March at HoliMont Ski Area in Ellicottville, NY.  This year’s event is slated for Thursday, March 6.
   “This event is one of HoliMont’s ongoing efforts to help support the local community, while allowing the participants to enjoy a fun day out on the slopes,” said Dash Hegeman, Marketing Director for HoliMont Ski Area. “HoliMont was founded on the idea of family unity, and to this day, we take pride in being able to help the surrounding community.” 
   Gail Vida Smith, Administration and Finance Manager for the United Way of Cattaraugus County, Inc., said the event, which is organized and managed by United Way staff and volunteers, is a great way to support the agencies that receive donor dollars from the organization, which serves to support community programs.  “This fundraiser, now in its 7th year, is open to the public, ski clubs, companies and students,” she said, noting that previous board members initiated the event, which brings in participants from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Connecticut, Maine and Canada.
   Ski Day for United Way began at the initiative of several former board members, including Lettie Chilson, an avid skier, who met with Candace Plants, Executive Director at United Way of Cattaraugus County, Inc., and staff at HoliMont in 2007 to discuss the event.
   “In 2007, the United Way of Cattaraugus County was looking for ways to engage the community throughout the county throughout the year,” Chilson said. “Olean had, for years, been the foci of events and annual fall campaign efforts … an Ellicottville-based event seemed like a natural fit to our objective.”
   “This event was one of several actions initiated in our effort to bring the United Way message to other areas of the county,” she added, explaining that the event provides multiple benefits to the area.  “It is our only winter event and highlights the year ‘round opportunities we have to help our community.  It not only raises needed funds but provides participants an opportunity to spend a fun day interacting with our volunteer board members and members of supported agencies that attend.”  
   Hegeman agreed.  “There are a limited number of charity events where you get to take to the slopes while raising money for a good cause,” he said, “so when they occur, it’s important to take advantage of them. You get to have fun out on the hill and feel good knowing you’ve helped an organization like United Way.”
   The entry fee for Ski Day for United Way is $60, which includes an all-day lift pass donated by HoliMont, a long-sleeve event T-shirt, continental breakfast, gourmet lunch by Dina’s Restaurant, after-ski snacks, and entry into the Poker Run. Smith explained the run, sponsored by CUTCO, is a ski activity that provides skiers with a playing card at the end of select runs at HoliMont.
   “Each time a skier comes down the hill between 1pm and 3pm, a volunteer gives the skier a playing card. The skier presenting the best natural poker hand wins a full set of CUTCO chef knives,” she said, noting that over 150 participants competed in the Poker Run last year.
   “The entire event is a complete hoot,” Smith continued. “This is a great way to have fun, meet new friends, network, get a bit of exercise, and support the wonderful agencies receiving donor dollars from the United Way.”
   With all proceeds from Ski Day for United Way benefitting the organization and its area programs, it’s critical for the community to participate.
   “The United Way of Cattaraugus County supports agencies that touch each and every one of us sometime in our lives,” Chilson said.  “This is an excellent opportunity for local organizations and businesses to highlight their support.
   “It’s a day out on the slopes that benefits an organization that does great things for the community,” Hegeman said. “It’s a win-win situation.” 
   Smith added, “It’s a great deal and many Ski Clubs join us for the day. “With HoliMont donating the ski passes, we put together a great and affordable package to raise funds for our area programs. It’s a great value and tons of fun!”
   For more information about Ski Day for United Way, or United Way of Cattaraugus County, visit www.uwcattco.org or call 716-372-3620.