Summit Rescue Group receives historic donation |

Summit Rescue Group receives historic donation

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY A month-long donation drive by a local sports retailer has yielded one of the largest, if not the largest, cash contribution to Summit County Rescue Group in its 35-year history.Ive got my treasurer checking on it right now, but we believe that its the single largest donation weve ever received, said Joe Ben Slivka, a mission coordinator with the nonprofit search and rescue team.Specialty Sports Venture, which owns Mountain Sports Outlet in Silverthorne, seven Keystone Sports stores and a dozen Breckenridge Sports stores, recently delivered a $28,874 check to the Rescue Group. Their funding is completely contingent on folks making donations, so we just felt like they needed a big brother in their corner to kind of give them the extra funding that they need ever year, said Specialty Sports sales and marketing manager Scott Miles.For the past three years, Summit Rescue Group has been the regional beneficiary of Specialty Sports Adopt-a-Cause campaign. During the month of December employees in all the local rental/retail stores solicited donations from patrons as they rung up their purchases.Then, the company matched 50 percent of the proceeds, bringing the grand total to nearly $30,000.Last year, the company raised $25,000 for Summit Rescue Group; the year before, its customers helped collect $14,000 for the volunteer organization.Miles said he believes this seasons contributions surpassed prior offerings in part because it took some time for everyone to get onboard with the program.He also believes timing played a role, as the high-profile rescue effort for three missing climbers on Oregons Mt. Hood coincided with the fundraiser.I think that really kind of put in perspective for a lot of people what these search and rescue teams really do, Miles said.Summit Rescue Group receives a budget of $25,000 from the Summit County Sheriffs Office each year, but its operating costs run about $60,000, which leaves grants and good Samaritans to fill in the $35,000 gap every year, Slivka said.Its huge in terms of our ability to survive, he said.Previous donations from Specialty Sports Venture have been used toward the replacement of the Rescue Groups 20-year-old primary rescue rig, which has been purchased and should be in service by July, Slivka said.The latest chunk of change will most likely also be used to help offset the costs of replacing some larger pieces of equipment, like aging snowmobiles or the groups 12-year-old secondary rescue vehicle, Slivka said.However the groups board of directors determines the money to be most useful, one thing is certain the efforts of Specialty Sports employees are greatly appreciated.Were definitely trying to figure out how can we possibly reciprocate, (say) thank you enough for this type of donation because it really is unheralded, Slivka said.The Summit Rescue Group has been around since 1972, and responds to about 200 calls per year for all types of backcountry emergencies, from lost hikers to avalanche victims. It is among the busiest rescue groups in the state. Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at

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