By Jay Sloves
“We never knew we could snowboard until they let us try,” said one of the 41 tired but happy Hartford Police Athletic League (PAL) kids returning home last Wednesday from the 2nd annual Ski Sundown Learn to Snowboard program.
For the second year, the City of Hartford PAL program teamed up with Ski Sundown in New Hartford to give more than three dozen Hartford kids, most who have never even seen a ski resort, the opportunity to snowboard. The historic snowfall the week before made for historic fun.
As the kids piled off the Dattco coach, seeing the snow-packed slopes for the first time, a chorus of “Wow!” “Awesome!” and “Cool” echoed back off the mountain.
But this was fun with a purpose.
“Hartford PAL is a non-profit unit with the Hartford Police Department. We’re committed to improving the lives of inner city youth through recreational activities, like the Ski Sundown event, and educational programs that offer an alternative to violence, gang membership, truancy and substance abuse,” said Sgt. Karla C. Medina, PAL supervisor.
Officer Carlos Torres, assigned to the Patrol Division and a 10-year volunteer with PAL, coordinated the slope-side events for PAL. Officer Torres even daringly tried his hand (actually, feet) at snowboarding. “The staff at Ski Sundown really showed the kids that they cared for them a lot,” said Officer Torres. “Right down to the post lesson hot home-made cookies.”
Thanks to Ski Sundown, Dattco Bus, Elkinson & Sloves marketing and iQuilt Presents Hartford Winterfest all costs were underwritten. The Connecticut Whale also hosted a “Hats Off” winter glove and hat drive resulting in more than 100 donated hats and gloves for the young snowboarders.
In effect, the Ski Sundown event was a unique extension to the successful Hartford Winterfest.
“We at Ski Sundown had a blast with this wonderful group of kids and police officers from the PAL program,” said Bob Switzgable, president & general manager, Ski Sundown. “Extending Hartford Winterfest to our slopes in New Hartford gives these kids another way to embrace winter and learn a new sport.”
“We appreciate the generosity of Ski Sundown for hosting the PAL kids,” said Mayor Pedro Segarra. “Hartford Winterfest in Bushnell Park let our youth experience the joy of skating at no cost and now the chance to snowboard is a perfect compliment.”
Luke Wayne Photography/Ski Sundown