Can you believe the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics are less than two months away? While the Games may be taking place in South Korea, Park City will be getting in on some of the pre-games action when the Utah Olympic Park hosts the Olympic Team Trials for Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping on December 30 and 31 at the Utah Olympic Park. Ahead of the event, U.S.A. Nordic and local Olympic hopeful, ski jumper Abby Ringquist have teamed up with the 1,000 Dreams Fund, an organization focused on empowering young women to achieve their career dreams, to offer two lucky winners VIP passes and an all-expense paid trip to Park City for the event. Here's the scoop on this unique and exciting partnership and how you can help support our athletes.
Since it first started a little over a year ago, the 1,000 Dreams Fund has provided critical financial support to high school- and college-aged young women through microgrants for extra-curricular needs (ranging from conferences to internships, study abroad, training sessions, and beyond). Sports weren't originally on the organization's radar, but that all changed when Founder and CEO Christie Garton visited the Olympic Training facility here and happened to meet Abby Ringquist who had come into train that day. "We started talking about girls sports and how drastically under funded they are, even on the elite Olympic level." says Garton. "Abby's story really resonated with me and I took it upon myself to incorporate women's athletics into our program." Thanks to this fateful encounter, Ringquist is now the spokeswoman for the 1,000 Dreams "Fund Girls On the Rise" campaign. "Abby really is perfect for this role as the ultimate woman on the rise," Garton says. "She's a college student, an Olympic level athlete, and a young woman who really has dealt with the struggle of trying to achieve your dreams while having to overcome financial obstacles."
It wasn't until this summer that women's ski jumping was brought under the umbrella of U.S.A. Nordic. Until then, the sport was largely under the domain of Women's Ski Jumping U.S.A. (WJUSA), the non-profit formed to petition for women's ski jumping's inclusion in the Olympics (a goal it accomplished in 2014). The merger between the two organizations had been on the table for a few years, but it wasn't until this past summer the stars aligned. "This was a great opportunity to work together, take a step towards equality, and make sure all of our athletes are funded," says Billy Demong, Olympic Gold Medalist and executive director of U.S.A. Nordic. "We've worked hard to build a solid pipeline to make sure athletes who have the talent, drive, and work ethic can pursue their passion to the Olympic level. As a community we now have operations in the U.S. and Europe and we're working with clubs, officials, and coaches to recruit, educate, and build a capital infrastructure." One of the biggest drivers for youth participation in U.S.A. Nordic is, in fact, girls from the Midwest so it makes sense for them to partner with an organization like 1,000 Dreams. "There's a lot of synergy with our missions," says Demong. "I coached Abby when I was here competing in 2002 and she was one of the most enthusiastic kids around. It's been amazing watching her become the woman she is today. One of her jobs is being a part-time coach to younger kids. She does it because she loves getting up on the hill and inspiring a new generation of jumpers. It's how our community works. Men or women, these athletes know they probably won't get rich doing this, they do it because they love the sport and seeing a younger kid light up after flying for the first time."
For Ringquist becoming a beneficiary and ambassador of the 1,000 Dreams Fund was really about being in the right place at the right time. "It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, especially at this pivotal point in my career," says Ringquist. "But in the end it doesn’t matter if I win an Olympic medal or not. I want the biggest takeaway from my athletic career to be helping others. If sharing my story can inspire girls who doubt themselves because there’s a missing link that's what I want, and hopefully the 1,000 Dreams Fund can fill that missing link." (Check out our full interview with Ringquist here.)
If you want to help athletes and all young women on the rise, head over to the 1,000 Dreams Fund to make a donation and a chance to collect those VIP tickets. You can also show your support for all U.S.A. Nordic athletes, by following along with them on their journey through Story Project which features blogs written by various members of the community, ranging from coaches to young kids, alumni, and more. Donations are, of course, also appreciated and well spent.
USA Nordic is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote and develop the Nordic disciplines of Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined in the United States; assist U.S. athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic, World Championship and other international competitions in the disciplines; and to promote the highest standards of sportsmanship, equality, fair play, and good will between individuals of all nations through competition in our sports. For more information, visit the USA Nordic website.
ABOUT THE 1,000 DREAMS FUND
The 1,000 Dreams Fund (1DF) is a national scholarship fund for American girls in high school and college. 1DF believes that big expenses should never stand in the way of big dreams. Since its launch in November 2015, over $100,000 in funding has been granted to talented young women in need, helping them pay for the "extras" in school like study abroad, tech devices for the classroom and travel to conferences and seminars. 1DF has been featured in NBCNews.com, USA Today, MarketWatch, Forbes, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur, TODAY, etc. To learn more about their work, visit http://1000dreamsfund.org/