Small Champions

A nonprofit organization

$97,953 raised by 137 donors

98% complete

$100,000 Goal

Small Champions provides sports and recreational opportunities for Eagle County youth with multiple disabilities. Your donation will help us continue to provide the programs, equipment, and instruction to the children we serve.


These quotes from the Special Education teachers and the families of these Small Champions are a true testament to how important this Program is to our Community. I think these quotes give you just a little insight as to how the families here in the Vail Valley feel about what Small Champions has done for them. Small Champions changes lives in a big way on a daily basis.

Comments from Special Education Teachers:
" Small Champions is an incredible program that allows my students opportunities that they may not otherwise have, whether it is skiing on the mountain, rock climbing in the summer, or meeting with others families for events, such as bowling nights.   It allows unstructured time for students with disabilities to engage in fun and motivating activities.  Often times, my students with disabilities can be overwhelmed with the daily tasks and learning that happens at school, and Small Champions is a wonderful program for my students to look forward to on the weekends and in the summer.  Many of my students have formed close relationships with their Small Champion coaches, which can go beyond just the Small Champions get-togethers.  My students also come back to school and talk about their fun weekend skiing with their Small Champion coaches.  As a special education teacher, I am grateful for the dedication that Small Champions has for our community, families, and our students with special needs.  Small Champions opens up many opportunities for our students and their families to experience in our community and I am thankful for their support and the community at large that supports Small Champions.  It is a much needed program for my students in this community.  
Thank you, John, for working so closely with Eagle County Schools, to ensure that our students with disabilities, can have an opportunity to experience the many amazing things this community has to offer.  We appreciate you and all people that make Small Champions such a success!"  
Elizabeth Koskinen
Special Education Teacher
June Creek Elementary

"I have seen many benefits! 
The bond between the small champion and the instructor often goes beyond the ski sessions.  Henry and Ben spend tons of time together.  Henry has written speeches about Ben for his classes and often talks about him. 
I have seen an increase in language in my students who are quiet or nonverbal.  
They have made connections to academic articles they read because of the background knowledge they have on skiing and snowboarding.
My students are so happy to talk about their skiing experiences with their coaches in school. Increasing the communication between teachers and students. 
They get a chance to make and see friends outside of school.  This is something my students don't always get a chance to do otherwise. 
My students are becoming more active and physically fit. This is important as they grow. 
Parents get a break for a few hours. Not something they get very often. 
These are only a few off the top of my head! I am sure there is so much more!"

Nicole Barth
Special Education Teacher
Berry Creek Middle School

Comments from parents:
"Small Champions has given him something great to talk about so his speech has improved and my husband and I feel that Small Champions has helped us to begin to dream for our son again."

"My son has benefited immensely from therapeutic horseback riding with Kathy Mikolasy. It has helped his balance and speech improve. He loves to learn about life on a ranch and helps groom and feed the horses. His lessons with Kathy have also taught him about appropriate behaviors with animals in general."

"Jim and I had tried to teach Henry how to ski when we lived in Maine. Not only are neither of us great skiers, but we also lacked the instructional skills necessary to teach him well. When we decided to move to Colorado, and the Vail Valley, which we picked specifically because of the Small Champions network (in addition to the desire to live in the mountains, skiing was bound to be a focus. For these past two years, we have seen Henry make amazing progress. The thing is, it is not only as a skier, but also as a kid. He learns how to interact with people, wait his turn, persevere, and love skiing. Without the individual attention that Henry receives from a skilled instructor, he would not be able to enjoy skiing like he does. We are proud of his skill acquisition and even more proud of his social development. Simply not possible without Small Champions"


Small Champions transforms and empowers the lives of Eagle County, Colorado youth who are challenged with a variety of cognitive and physical disabilities. We teach these children that life is a rich and exciting place. Through repeated assurance and positive experiences our instructors and coaches help them grow, learn, and have fun.

Background Statement

Small Champions is a program for children ages 5 through 21 years with cognitive, physical, and multiple disabilities including but not limited to, cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, motor and sensory integration, processing disorders, and many other unique developmental and genetic disabilities. Small Champions provides benefits through one-on-one coaching in skiing/snowboarding, bowling, yoga, horseback riding (hippotherapy), gymnastics, swimming, golf, rock climbing and paddle boarding. We also offer an annual one-week summer camp in partnership with the Vail Recreation District. We provide inclusive opportunities to our kids through a partnership with Mountain Recreation to participate in group day camps, swimming lessons, and gymnastics lessons with their peers in the community. Children work with an instructor specially trained in adaptive teaching techniques and use special equipment to accommodate a wide variety of disabilities.

The program was founded in 1996 and has grown in the past 16 years from 5 children learning to ski to 75 kids in over 10 different recreational activities . There is no other program in Eagle County which provides a recreation based program for these particular children.

It is also very important for our Small Champions to have a peer group, and for their families to forge friendships to support each other and provide respite. We believe that recreational education encourages independence and life skills that are otherwise not attainable for many of the individuals that we serve. The aim is to increase each child's personal development by providing well developed programs in which children learn to set, and then achieve goals.

Organization Data


Organization name

Small Champions

other names

Small Champions

Year Established


Tax id (EIN)



Youth Development, Recreation & Sports, Human Services


216 Main St 2nd Floor
Edwards, CO


PO Box 4691
Vail, CO 81658

Service areas

Eagle County, CO, US





Social Media