Colorado does charity differently.
In other states, people run, walk and bike to raise money for cancer treatment and awareness.
Here, we ski for a cause.
The biggest annual ski fundraiser is Pink Vail (it's typically in the spring time but on different days), the world’s biggest ski day to benefit the cause of cancer.
Fittingly, Pink Vail is based at one of the nation’s biggest ski resorts, with more than 5,000 acres of powder to explore, and one of the most reputable, too.
Pink Vail isn’t a race, per se, and you don’t even have to ski to participate — although most participants do, because, well, Vail. (If you’ve ever been there, you know the magnetic draw of these slopes.) You can simply ride the gondola up the mountain or you can volunteer to help behind the scenes. The major fundraising event needs more than 300 volunteers every year.
Some participants dress up in crazy costumes and come up with funky team names and traditions.
One peek at the mountain on Pink Vail day, and you’ll quickly know where the name of the event came from. The white snow is covered with pink, from participants’ costumes to shirts to hair.
It attracts many local skiers — from people who have been affected by cancer to people looking for a positive excuse to squeeze in one last ski day, as we draw near the end of the season.
Pink Vail also draws many visitors to Colorado, and it’s a unique way to spend a spring day on the mountain for tourists passing through.
Background of Pink Vail
The Pink Vail event started in 2012 and was immediately well received. Event organizers say they exceeded their goal by 60 percent — indicating to them that they were onto something.
By the next year, the event nearly doubled.
By 2015, Pink Vail attracted more than 2,400 participants on 162 teams. That year alone raised more than $720,000.
Since its inception, Pink Vail has raised more than $1.7 million.
Family-friendly Pink Vail is based out of the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, which is easy to get to, on skis or not.
One hundred percent of the proceeds stay local and are sent to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center, to help care for patients and programs, such as free fitness classes, nutrition help and other kinds of support for cancer patients and survivors.
Visiting Vail Over Pink Vail Weekend?
Although you are getting close to the off season, lodging may be tricky to find this weekend, due to the influx of visitors for the fundraiser event. You can typically find lodging specials for the event, if there are still rooms available, like the Lionsquare Lodge; in the past, this hotel has offered a $5 donation per room to the cause.
Don’t worry about transportation when you’re in town. The town itself is totally walkable, and the shuttle that constantly cruises through town is free and easy to figure out.
Other Ways to Ski For a Cause
Pink Vail is not the only on-the-mountain fundraiser in Colorado.
The Invest In Kids Jane-A-Thon is a longstanding annual event at Winter Park that raises money for the Invest in Kids program. In fact, it claims to be the longest-running event of its kind in the state.
This ski/board-a-thon is a two-day event that raises thousands of dollars for vulnerable children.
Many ski resorts donate lift tickets and ski passes to charities and gift money to nonprofits. For example, Arapahoe Basin donated more than $73,000 in tickets and passes in 2013-14. It holds three main fundraising events every year: the Beacon Bowl, the Enduro and Save Our Snow.
The 14-plus-year-old Beacon Bowl goes beyond just skiing and includes a beacon search competition and avalanche dog demos.
So while Colorado's ski resorts are great entertainment and a worthy reason to visit Colorado, in and of themselves, they also make a point to contribute to the community on a meaningful, social level. So when you go skiing, even though that lift ticket is likely pretty pricey, you can feel a little bit better knowing it may, even indirectly, be helping an important cause.