Patron pass program: the foundation |

Patron pass program: the foundation

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Summit Foundation's annual duck race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series profiling The Summit Foundation, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary of charitable giving. The series runs Tuesdays and Sundays.SUMMIT COUNTY – The financial backbone of The Summit Foundation’s fundraising efforts always has been the patron pass program. What once started as a ski pass to Breckenridge Ski Resort has blossomed with the help of Summit County’s ski companies and nets about $250,000 annually for the foundation. The package of a ski pass and other benefits generates 33 percent of the organization’s annual campaign revenues, which make up 50 percent of the overall budget.

It is a hefty contribution to the foundation’s annual campaign drive. This year, the 20-year-old organization aims to raise $1.8 million. The foundation has awarded $5.88 million to more than 150 organizations since its inception in 1984. “The ski area participation is tremendously important,” said Deb Edwards, the foundation’s executive director. “The gift of skiing privileges at each of the resorts is a unique benefit provided to donors of the foundation.”Transferable season ski passes are donated to the patron pass program annually by all four of Summit’s ski areas, plus Intrawest-owned Winter Park and Vail Resorts-owned Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek. The participation creates a seven- or five-mountain ski pass in the form of a medallion.The foundation sells up to 300 ski pass packages a year. Last year, the packages sold for $3,000 for the five-mountain pass and $4,000 for the seven-mountain pass.

Besides winter chairlift access, benefits include unlimited access to the Alpine Slide in Breckenridge, season passes at area cross country centers, summer chair lift rides, a limited number of golf rounds at area courses, recreation center access and discounts at many local businesses for equipment rentals and activities. “The addition of year-round benefits to our pass program was inspired by donors,” Edwards said. “They appreciated the winter privileges and wondered if there were summer benefits as well.” The patron pass program is the cornerstone of The Summit Foundation, but its annual fundraising events create quite a social scene in the community. One favorite is the Rubber Duck Race.When The Summit Foundation held its first Rubber Duck Race, 500 little yellow ducks were rented for the event. Today, the organization owns 15,000 of its own rubber ducks, which “swim” just once a year down the Blue River in Breckenridge during Labor Day Weekend in one of the community’s most popular events.The rubber ducks are launched on Maggie Pond, then float down the river to the finish line at the Riverwalk Center, where adopted duck “owners” with the fastest ducks receive prizes.

The Rubber Duck Race and several other annual events raise 25 percent of the foundation’s revenue.Now in its seventh year, The Summit Foundation Hockey Classic takes place each April. The “Rivalry of the Resorts” features a spirited hockey game between the Intrawest Canucks and Vail Resorts Americans at the Steven C. West Ice Rink in Breckenridge. “It’s fun to get the two resorts together on the ice,” said Åsa Armstrong, special events and business development director for the foundation. “And there’s no staging at all in our games. Part of the fun is not knowing (who will win).”Added in 2000, the annual “Battle of the Badges” pits Summit County firefighters and police officers against each other in a friendly hockey game. This year, the police won for the first time.The Great West Peter Forsberg Celebrity Golf Tournament, a golf event in partnership with the NFL Alumni Association, is scheduled for June 17-20 at the Breckenridge Golf Club and The Raven Golf Club at Three Peaks.

The tournament raised nearly $100,000 for the foundation last summer.Set for the last weekend in July at River Run in Keystone, the Mountain Art Gathering showcases 12 of America’s fine artists. A Friday night gala adds to the weekend’s festivities. A portion of the total artist sales from the weekend event is contributed to the foundation, and additional revenues are generated at the gala dinner, where donated art items from each artist are auctioned for sale. Last year, sales and event proceeds totaled $60,000.A hoe down was added this year on July 2 to celebrate the foundation’s 20th anniversary. The event, held at Sharon Magness’ and Ernie Blake’s Triple Creek Ranch north of Silverthorne, is sold out. Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at

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