From tragedy to first turns |

From tragedy to first turns

BRAD ODEKIRKsummit daily news
Gregory focuses his attention up the mountain as he rides the Quicksilver Super 6 chairlift with BOEC instructor Robbie Dickson. It was his first time to ski or ride a chairlift. In fact, he said, he had only seen snow once in Oklahoma and of course on television.

Twenty eight kids from the New Orleans area who were affected by Hurricane Katrina were given the opportunity to leave everything behind for a few days and come to Summit County and learn to ski at Breckenridge Ski Resort this week. Blake Anderson with Sandstone Ventures – an investment, construction development company that does business in Louisiana – brought the kids to the High Country as a way of giving back. “We decided we needed to do something,” said Anderson, who was standing at the base of Peak 9 watching the students ski by with their Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center instructors Friday afternoon. “If we are going to do business down there, then we felt we should do something to give back.”

With the help of several volunteers and the charity of several businesses, the 28 kids spent three days – Thursday, Friday and today – learning a new snow sport. Fifteen-year-old Gregory Chestnut, a ninth-grader from O. Perry Walker Senior High School in the 11th Ward, spent Friday receiving private instruction from Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Robbie Dickson. “I feel very lucky,” said Chestnut, who had never skied before coming to Breckenridge and had only seen snow once before on a trip to Oklahoma. “It’s a big experience for me. It’s fun. I like it a lot and hope I get to do it again.”

Chestnut said his home was spared in the flooding after Katrina struck, but only by a few blocks. He was airlifted by helicopter to a convention center, then jetted to Austin, Texas. “I was scared, I thought for sure I was going to die,” he said while riding the QuickSilver Super 6 chairlift. It was the first time he had flown in an airplane or a helicopter.

Coming to Colorado was his second time in an airplane, and he thinks it is all pretty cool. Dickson, who was side-by-side with Chestnut all day, said, “I’m delighted the BOEC can help out that region that got hit so hard. I hope Gregory has fun and a good experience from his time out here.”

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