A group of BSSEF athletes enjoy their summer camp in the Beartooth Pass. PHOTO COURTESY BSSEF FACEBOOK

Let them ski

Big Sky Ski Education Foundation receives significant donations after closing firework stand

June 24 was decision day. The Big Sky Ski Education Foundation (BSSEF) had a difficult task of deciding whether to close their annual firework stand due to fire danger in the area. They eventually decided to do so in a press release sent out on the morning of June 24. This marks just the third time in the firework stand’s history that it has been closed down due to fire danger. The two other closures occurred in 2012 and 2016. However, BSSEF Program Director Jeremy Ueland states that this year is the worst that it’s been, “Neither year was quite as severe as this year,” Ueland said.

The BSSEF firework stand has been in operation since the mid to late 90’s. It was originally opened by Ueland’s parents when he was on the ski team near its inaugural season in 1993. The firework stand has been run by the BSSEF throughout that entire period up to the present.

Throughout the 20 plus years that the stand has been in operation the fire danger has never reached the point of a fire ban. That all changed on June 30 when the Gallatin County Commission banned fireworks and open burning in the Big Sky Fire District and the Hebgen Basin Fire District, according to a press release from the Gallatin Media Center.

It was before this decision however that the BSSEF decided to take action. The community of Big Sky was already concerned about the fire danger before the June 24 decision . In fact, there was such a significant concern that organizations began offering funds to the BSSEF to not open the stand. “There were people in the community who were offering us contributions not to open the stand this year,” Ueland said.

When the decision was finally made, the BSSEF received funding from the community right away. Lone Mountain Land donated $10,000 to the BSSEF and Big Sky Build donated $5,000 almost immediately. The BSSEF also received multiple $500 and $1,000 donations from other organizations and community members.

Although they had immediately raised significant funds, the BSSEF was still more than $20,000 away from their goal. This is when the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation(YCCF) stepped in. The YCCF decided to encourage more donations from the community by agreeing to match up to $10,000 worth of donations. According to YCCF vice president of philanthropy Ciara Wolfe, the decision to match donations was made to help keep the ball rolling in the community. “It encouraged people that this goal was obtainable. Sometimes when people can’t see the end of the goal, they don’t think that their small contribution will help. But when the goal seems obtainable, that’s when you start to see people give at whatever level they can to help support them,” Wolfe said.

The gesture from the YCCF helped expedite the donation process significantly. The BSSEF is now very close to reaching their donation goal of $45,000. The YCCF continues to encourage community members to donate within their means to help fill out the rest of the $10,000 match. They believe that the BSSEF is a very valuable non-profit organization and helps young athletes do what they love. “They cultivate a love of skiing and competing for so many of our younger kids here,” Wolfe said.

The BSSEF needs significant funds to operate their valuable organization. They need to raise $300,000 a year through fundraisers and tuition in order to operate. Roughly half of this funding needs to come from fundraisers and donations in order to keep tuition costs down for young skiers and snowboarders.

The provided funding from the generous donations and other fundraisers put on throughout the year will also go towards much needed scholarships for the BSSEF. The organization provides scholarships for young athletes that can’t afford things such as tuition, travel and equipment.

As of now, the BSSEF is just $5,000 away from their $45,000 goal. If you are interested in helping out the BSSEF’s effort, visit https://bssef.com/product/donate/.

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Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
Susanne Hill, billing: shill@lonepeaklookout.com
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