US Olympian, Kelly Clark, Works With Youth To Pursue Their Dreams with Snowboarding
The Olympics: When people first hear this word, most envision athletes, gold medals, patriotism and heart pounding moments. All in all, we envision, self-glory. However, this did not satisfy Kelly Clark. Kelly has successfully competed in many snowboarding competitions, one that includes a Gold Medal win for the Women’s Halfpipe in the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She will also be competing in the upcoming The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic. Though Clark has a long list of accomplishments, they did not add to her ultimate satisfaction. This unsettled feeling is what led to her vision and greatest success of all, the Kelly Clark Foundation. Since it’s inception in 2010, the Foundation has provided children with the opportunities to achieve their highest potential through snowboarding, having awarded over $60,000 in scholarships. In 2013 alone, the foundation awarded $16,000 to four hopeful snowboarders in order to attend different mountain schools across the United States. Kelly Clark Foundation is on its way to accomplishing the mission they set out upon; to spark, “not only greater participation in the industry, but a contagious spirit of paying it forward, and giving back to our growing snowboarding community.” (KCF)
Kelly took some time to discuss with the Conscious Magazine crew about her purpose and vision of the Kelly Clark Foundation.
Q |What brought you to the vision of founding the Kelly Clark Foundation? Was there a specific experience or have you always wanted to do this?I have had a very successful snowboard career and one day I realized I wanted to make a bigger impact than just leaving good contest results. I want to look back and see that the snowboarding community is better because I was part of it. So I looked around at the needs of our industry and saw that one of the biggest challenges was the financial aspects of our sport. Snowboarding is expensive, and because of that, it is not accessible. I knew from my own experience that those financial needs were very real and challenging for families. So I thought that would be a good place to start. Sometimes all one needs to be great is opportunity and my life is a testament to that. Snowboarding has given me so much, it has helped me develop into the person I am today, and I know given the opportunity it will do that for others.
Q | Why do you want to give back and why do you feel this need to help others? As a professional athlete it is easy to think about yourself all the time… and on some levels that is required. But, I had a thought that perhaps the world would be a better place if I did not think about myself so much and started thinking of others. And it comes from a place of asking myself… what can I give as opposed to what can I get?
Q | What other philanthropic work have you been involved in? I have been part of some other organizations that are similar to mine. I have been to some events put on by Chill, Outdoor Outreach, The Station Camp and After-school All Stars. All of those organizations aim to develop youth through the avenue of sports and outdoors.
Q | What’s the most remarkable and life-changing situation you’ve been a part of? We expanded the Scholar program this year and had a focus on the town of Mammoth lakes. We did this through partnering with the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation. The kids we are able to help out are at the mountain daily. It is one thing to raise money or sign a check, but it is another thing to see the kids in the lifeline or in the pipe. We were about to support 5 local youth in mammoth and help with payment for their coaching and mountain program. Some of the moms came up to me in town and hugged me in tears saying how without the finical support, their kid would not be able to pursue their dreams… that made it a bit more tangible and impacted me more than anything else that we have done.
Q | Is there a specific quote or motto you live by? “Nothing is impossible.”
Q| Can you tell a story of a specific recipient that you related to? How did this recipient or all the young snowboarders influence your future goals? Some of the young girls that we support compete against me in my events. It kinda blows my mind to be in practice and see the people we support… it makes me believe I am doing the right thing when I see dreams realized. It is all about opportunity. I was never the most talented athlete, I just made the most out of what was given me. And seeing the girls have that opportunity is a win for me. Winning does not give you life, but creating opportunity does.
Q | What are your future plans with the Foundation? I always say that running a non-profit is just like running a for-profit business, but you just make as much money as you can to give away instead of keep. I have an amazing board of directors and without them none of this would be possible. But I hope in the future to build out the business plan and help the foundation be more self sustainable, apart from dependency on me or any one board member. Do some more business development. I should have time to dive back into that after the Olympics.
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