About 10,000 travelers with passports made it to Breckenridge during the fall mud season, not as travelers, but as diners.
The Breckenridge Restaurant Association raised more than $15,000 during the Fall 2013 Breckenridge Dining Passport fundraiser, thanks to donations from those thousands of diners from Sept. 23 to Nov. 14, 2013, at 23 locations around town.
The dining passport is an informational pamphlet, available in the off-seasons, with discounts, special deals and promotions from participating restaurants. The passports are available for a suggested $10 donation, and the BRA collects all proceeds. With the fall promotion, the BRA donated more than $10,000 to Summit County Cares, a special fund that helps locals unable to pay for such basics as shelter, heat or medical care.
Ken Nelson, BRA president and restaurant owner, said since the dining passport program began in 2011, he has seen incredible growth and support for the fundraiser.
“We’re very proud to have our membership step up, not only to coordinate a season of promotional events around food, but have this money be dedicated toward Summit County Cares,” he said.
Anita Overmyer, development director at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, said the organization was very happy and grateful the BRA chose to donate the money to the Summit County Cares fund.
“It’s a special fund; 100 percent of the money is used to pay bills for people who need assistance,” she said. “It’s the largest emergency assistance fund, and without this money we couldn’t help as many people who aren’t able to afford basic needs.”
Overmyer said most payments they make are about $400, so with a total fund of $50,000 this year, Summit County Cares can help more than 100 locals and families.
“The passport program is why we reached our goal,” she said. “We really were counting on that money to help out.”
In the past, Nelson said, it might have been difficult for restaurants to plan off-season dining — it was hard to communicate changed hours or closures. Now, with the dining passport, locals get more information about their favorite spots, and restaurants get to promote their discounts or specials.
“It’s pretty cool that it’s as well received as it is,” he said. “We hope it makes dining a little more fun and gives it some purpose. The restaurant participants are better now at knowing how the program works, to plan promotions around it and figure out when to do what.”
Nelson said the program works well because it’s not an additional fundraising event for restaurant owners to take on, but rather just restaurants doing what they always do, in their own locations during regular hours.
For the future, Nelson hopes to launch a web presence for the dining passport program. The BRA also donates money from the passport program to fund scholarships for graduating Summit High School seniors in the spring.
“The amount of work that goes into raising funds in this community all the time, and the participation by many entities, not just restaurants, is enormous,” he said. “This works so well because it’s like our version of a restaurant week, but with a fundraising angle.”