VAIL, Colorado—No matter whether the view is from Everest Base Camp or the bottom of an indoor wall, climbers of all abilities seem to always be looking up.
On November 29 and 30 of last year, members of the Vail Climbing Team and the Mountain Divas staged the fourth annual “Climb for Literacy” fundraising climb-a-thon, generating a total of $8,000 and providing Vail Valley families with the opportunity to reach new educational heights of their own.
Event founder and internationally renowned mountaineer Ellen Miller created Climb for Literacy in 2008 as a way for children to channel their passion for climbing into an event that would promote literacy, while also benefiting those less fortunate or reading challenged.
“I created Climb for Literacy four years ago because I love the Vail Valley and climbing,” explained Miller, the first American woman to summit Mt. Everest from both the north and the south sides. “I wanted to teach young climbers how to use their climbing skills to help other people. In essence, it’s kids climbing to help other kids,”
The children on the Vail Climbing Team, coached by Larry Moore, Adam Markert and Justin Miller, climbed vertical feet on an indoor climbing wall for donations, while The Mountain Divas, one of Miller’s motivational outdoor fitness groups, climbed mountains to raise funds for the literacy cause.
Proceeds from the event were donated to the Vail Valley Foundation’s Magic Bus pre-school readiness program and the Vail Pet Partners Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program, with close to $6,000 for the Magic Bus and $2,200 for R.E.A.D.
“We are extremely grateful to Ellen, the Vail Climbing Team and The Mountain Divas for caring so deeply about the educational well-being of the children of our community,” offered Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. “The Vail Valley is certainly fortunate to benefit from numerous world class athletes like Ellen, who not only call our valley home, but who also truly understand that there are many different summits in life that can be conquered with a helping hand.”
The Magic Bus program, funded by the Vail Valley Foundation and facilitated by the Youth Foundation, features a fleet of two vans that travel throughout Eagle County, providing pre-kindergarten-aged children with the opportunity to discover the wonders of learning about their world, encouraging creative expression and nurturing natural curiosity.
The Vail Pet Partners R.E.A.D program improves children's reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. But not just any dog. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.