Summit County Rescue Group launches new fundraising campaign |

Summit County Rescue Group launches new fundraising campaign

Summit County Rescue Group members perform an avalanche operation at the top of Quandary Peak in 2017.
Photo from Summit County Rescue Group

The Summit County Rescue Group has launched a fundraising campaign asking community members for help in supporting training for members, equipment upgrades and other expenses vital to maintaining the team’s operations.

The rescue group was founded in December 1972 and has remained an all-volunteer team ever since. The campaign represents the first fundraiser in the group’s 48-year existence.

“We’ve never really done formal fundraising efforts before,” said Charles Pitman, a spokesperson with the rescue group. “We have so many missions we’re involved with every year, and a lot of the people that we pull out of the backcountry, and their families and friends, donate money to our team. We’re hoping this is the start of a long-term goal for us to have more of a formal effort to raise money, instead of just relying on the goodness of the people we’re helping.”

The rescue group receives a small operating budget from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office every year but relies primarily on grants and individual donations from community members to support the team’s $55,000 to $65,000 annual operating expenses.

But demands for the group continue to grow. Over the past six years, the rescue group has averaged more than 9,000 volunteer hours for training, missions and other safety events. Last year was a record-breaking year for the group, with more than 200 individual 911 calls for service compared with about 155 in 2019.

“It makes us one of the busiest teams in the state and probably the country,” said Anna DeBattiste, public information officer for the group. “With the increase in missions, we’ve also had an increase in training and equipment needs.”

Annual member training costs the group between $15,000 and $20,000 a year. Equipment like hand-held radios and litters can cost the group up to $2,000 apiece, and vehicle purchases can range from $13,000 for a new snowmobile to over $80,000 for a new truck.

As part of the fundraising campaign, the group mailed brochures to every homeowner in Summit County along with second-home owners around the country, detailing statistics and sharing stories about individuals the group has helped to save. The group is also pushing the campaign on social media, where it’s sharing stories about team volunteers.

Organizers said they’ll be pushing hard for donations through mid-January but that community members can donate at any time under the “Become a Friend” tab at The group also plans to make the fundraising campaign an annual event and will participate in Colorado Gives Day in December.

Of note, while this year’s campaign will serve to address everyday operational expenses, the rescue group will be looking to expand fundraising efforts in the coming years as it works on plans for a new equipment barn.

“The Summit County Rescue Group is absolutely essential to this community,” said Tamara McClelland, a volunteer who is leading fundraising efforts for the group. “When people support the rescue group, they’re supporting safety in our community. They’re actually doing something to make a difference for the safety of our visitors and residents.”


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