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Sunday, December 9, 2012
Tom Sims Legacy Fund

By Colin Bane

SIMS and SOS at Winter Park, April 2012.

Last week SIMS Snowboards brand manager Marc Vitelli announced the launch of the Tom Sims Legacy Fund, in memory of the snowboarding pioneer credited with building the first modern snowboard and advancing the sport over the last five decades. Sims, 61, died of cardiac arrest in September. He would have turned 62 on Thursday.

"Tom was always very passionate about and dedicated to providing the opportunity to get people out on the hill to experience snowboarding, and he always regarded that experience as a life-transforming event," says Vitelli. "We wanted to make sure that something was done in his memory that would directly help get kids strapping in and sliding on snow."

The new fund will benefit SOS Outreach International (originally known as the Snowboard Outreach Society), a non-profit youth development program based in Colorado's Vail Valley that currently serves 5,000 young people annually through outdoor adventure and leadership training programs. SIMS Snowboards and its parent brand, Collective Licensing International, have partnered with SOS Outreach over the last five years through product donations and volunteer support.

SIMS team riders including Seth Hill and Bryan Daino have participated as coaches and mentors with the program, as have Vitelli and other employees in his Englewood, Colo. office, and Vitelli says the program was a natural fit as he sought to memorialize Sims in a meaningful way.

The fund was launched this week with an initial $7,000 matching grant in advance of Colorado Gives Day on Wednesday. SOS Outreach development director Seth Ehrlich reports that the organization raised a total of $24,800 during the one-day fundraising event, including over $14,000 through the Tom Sims Legacy Fund.

"It's a huge honor -- this is the guy who founded snowboarding as we know it -- and we're honored to be in a position where we can continue to carry on Tom's legacy," says Ehrlich. "Personally, I'm amazed and flattered, and organizationally it's just a tremendous honor and a reflection of the impacts our programs are having on kids. The fact that they approached us and want to continue the partnership that we'd already created and strengthen it through this effort feels like a tremendous validation of the work we've been doing."

Ehrlich says money from the Tom Sims Legacy Fund will be used to support scholarships for the the SOS Academy program, a five-day learn-to-ride program used to introduce the SOS Core Value curriculum, with emphasis on developing Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom, and Compassion. Students who complete the program are eligible for SOS University, a comprehensive four-year mentoring, community service, and leadership development program that incorporates snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, and backpacking adventures.

"Tom did everything he could to help progress snowboarding over the span of his life and we want to continue that tradition and give people every opportunity to support that cause," Vitelli says. "Seeing our initial legacy donation matched 100 percent, and then some, reflects how much people understand and appreciate the influence Tom had on snowboarding at every level and want to see that influence continue."