Make turns to help Colorado kids at Jane-A-Thon4 min read
Skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes for a cause on March 3-4 at the Mary Jane side of Winter Park Resort. Jane-A-Thon, the longest running ski and snowboard fundraiser benefiting children in Colorado, will include lots of slope-side contests and an après ski party to celebrate the winners.
The Jane-A-Thon began when a group of four friends challenged each other to ski all Mary Jane’s mogul runs in one day to raise funds for Invest in Kids. One of these four friends was Eric Hilty, the founder of Invest in Kids. The nonprofit offers programs for the health and well-being of Colorado children and families, including those in Grand County.
“This is our 25th year as an organization established in Colorado and the Jane-a-thon started the year after we became a new nonprofit,” said Lisa Hill, executive director of Invest in Kids.
It wasn’t a coincidence that the Invest in Kids’ founder chose Winter Park Resort to host the fundraiser. Hilty was also part of the resort’s National Sports Center for the Disabled.
“He was a volunteer for 20 plus years with that program,” said Hill. “He was so dedicated to Winter Park that when he and his friends decided to start the Jane-A-Thon, they chose Winter Park based on his love for that mountain.”
Each year the Jane-A-Thon raises over $200,000 thanks to hundreds of participants skiing bumps to benefit families.
Participants compete to ski or ride the most vertical feet and/or all 16 of Mary Jane’s bump runs. If they aren’t ready for the challenge adults and kids can just enjoy a day on the slopes. The event welcomes skiers and boarders of all abilities.
Funds are raised by donations from friends and family, or pledges by corporate sponsors. Participants raise a minimum of $175 and get an adrenaline-filled day on the slopes. Friday, March 3, is Corporate Day, which has the most participants and competitive action. March 4 is Friends and Family Day, which is more relaxed.
Christy Sports in Winter Park, a sponsor of the event, will provide free gear rentals. Participants can score prizes for the most funds raised, most runs completed and best costume for those who bring their Gaper Day outfits.
In 2022, the Jane-A-Thon had nearly 400 participants who raised over $338,000 to support Invest in Kids – a new record for the event. As of Feb. 28, people have raised $264,955 of this year’s $335,000 goal.
About Invest in Kids
Every groomer and mogul run that participants ski will support Invest in Kids’ three programs, the Nurse-Family Partnership, The Incredible Years, and Child First.
In Grand County, families receive support from the Nurse-Family Partnership and The Incredible Years.
Hill said The Incredible Years supports learning and emotional development for children ages 2-8. The Incredible Years includes three components: Training for teachers to develop positive relationships with parents and students; interactive lessons for students, called “Dinosaur School” that use puppets; and a parenting program where parents learn how to promote healthy growth and social skills for their child. Last year, 13 parents in Grand County participated in the parenting program.
“We have a lot of folks that are benefitting from these programs in Grand County,” Hill said. “Last year, over 300 students received Dinosaur School … just in Grand County alone.”
Hill said the Nurse-Family Partnership is also available for mothers who are giving birth for the first time and are experiencing economic hardship. A registered nurse helps guide women through their journey of motherhood.
“It works through a relationship-based program with mom and families, whomever is a part of that mom and baby’s life, through the child’s second birthday,” said Hill.
These goals include a healthy pregnancy outcome, healthy child development and economic self-sufficiency of the family.
Grand County moms who want to become involved can be referred by organizations such as Mountain Family Center or Pregnancy Resource Connection. They can also apply themselves by contacting Invest in Kids.
Hill said that it’s not often she gets to meet the clients of the program, although the nurses work with them every day. However, one year when Hill was helping run the Jane-A-Thon at Mary Jane, she got the chance to talk with a mother about how the program had supported her. One of the Invest in Kids volunteers struck up a conversation with a woman who was at the resort.
“It turned out she was a client of the Nurse-Family Partnership, she had twins. She came and talked to all of our participants,” said Hill. “It was so fun … what are the chances! I was so excited to meet her.”
Those participating in Jane-A-Thon are benefitting families in Grand County and around Colorado. To register for the fundraiser, visit Jat23.CauseVox.com. For those who can’t make the event but still want to donate to help Colorado kids, visit iik.org.