Fundraiser will help dreams come true |

Fundraiser will help dreams come true

Provided to the Tribune

Provided to the Tribune. Jonna Mendes, an alumna of the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation program, and her former coach, Noel Dufty, foundation program director, look forward to the Winter Welcome fundraiser.

The Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation will present its 18th annual Winter Welcome from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe convention center. The gala event is the foundation’s major fundraiser for the season.

The evening will include a buffet dinner, dancing to the music of the Uncle Funkle band and both a live and silent auction. Among the live auction items will be a choice of a visit to the set of CSI Gray’s Anatomy or a Disney feature film; a trip to Maui, Hawaii; a ski trip to Switzerland; and a trip to a Sacramento Kings basketball game. The silent auction will feature a huge array of items including wine, clothing and skis.

Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased in advance by calling (530) 541-7354. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

The goal of the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation has been to make it financially feasible for families who live and work in the Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley communities to participate in competitive Alpine, freestyle, free ride and snowboard programs. The foundation strives to assist these young people to advance not only athletically, but also socially and educationally. There are few sports that provide the opportunity to test one’s self so completely, in so many ways, while learning about limits and how to go beyond them. Athletes learn lessons in perseverance, and that anything can be achieved through determination and sustained effort.

An example of the caliber of athlete who is an alumni of the Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation program is Jonna Mendes of South Lake Tahoe. Mendes is a 10-year member of the U.S. Ski Team and is approaching her third Olympics this February in Torino, Italy. Her career highlight to date was a bronze medal in the 2003 World Championship super-G event in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She is a four-time national champion, twice in downhill and twice in giant slalom. She took 11th in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has had a number of top-10s on the World Cup circuit.

Mendes said, “Any athlete in an Olympic sport will tell you they want a medal. It’s one of the hardest challenges out there. So few people in the world are able to get an Olympic medal. It is really, really hard to do. I’ve been working so long and so hard at this, that this is what I want. I want a medal. That’s what I’m here for.”

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This is the school of thought she learned from one of her first coaches, Noel Dufty, program director of Heavenly Ski and Snowboard Foundation. All proceeds from the Winter Welcome will go to further the dreams of athletes such as Mendes.