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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Athletes Give Back with Harper For Kids

By Andrew Gauthier
July, 31 2019
Harper For Kids
Tess Johnson presenting to an elementary school classroom as part of the Harper For Kids program. (Harper For Kids)

Four U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes took time out of their busy training schedules to give back and inspire the next generation of skiers and snowboarders with Harper For Kids (HFK), a children’s non-profit organization.

HFK was founded by Tim & Peanut Louie Harper in 2008. HFK’s Character Education program is based upon legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success,” and their mission is to teach youth essential character traits that will help them achieve their personal best in life. 

“It has been such an honor and thrill for Harper for Kids to team up with several of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s athletes,” said Peanut Harper. “All of these athletes are such inspiring role models and great examples of what success is all about. The students were so excited to meet them and to learn not only what they do to be the best athlete they can be, but more importantly, the best person they can be. We hope by having these champion athletes share the steps they've taken to be successful, how they handle pressure and expectations, and other challenges in life, that the students can be inspired to believe in themselves, go after their dreams and goals and never give up.”

A special part of HFK programming is the “Pyramid of Success” presentations they provide to schools through video conferencing. HFK brings in great role models to share their positive definition of success and other valuable life lessons that can inspire the students to be the best person they can be. This is where U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont.), Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.), Winter Vinecki (Gaylord, Mich.) and Toby Miller (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) stepped in to offer their expertise. Combined, the athletes were able to reach 1,360 students from 11 of the participating schools, sending messages of empowerment, positivity, ambition, and individuality. 

“I really enjoy sharing my story with kids because I know they look up to it as something they could do one day,” said Johnson. “Being a professional athlete opened up this platform to make a difference, and I want to show the younger generation that they should have the confidence to be themselves, make mistakes, and chase their dreams. It’s so important to me that I prioritize being a role model because if I can inspire confidence in kids, they will go on to do amazing things for the world. My experience with Harper For Kids embodied everything I stand for, and it was an amazing opportunity that every professional athlete should take advantage of to share their story.”

Picture yourself as an elementary school student. The world is your oyster and here come four U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Team athletes ready to share key lessons and experiences to help you succeed. This was by no means a mandatory experience for Voisin, Johnson, Vinecki, or Miller, but rather a chance for them to support a group of wide-eyed students who are hungry for knowledge. U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes do more than just train and compete, they give back, they inspire, and they represent their sport and fellow teammates to the best of their ability. 

For more information about HFK and to learn how you can support their organization, visit http://www.harperforkids.org