By Rose S. Prinzi
The 2008 Summer Olympics are upon us. Officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, this international, multi-sport event is being held in Beijing. As we look forward to witnessing the amazing feats of athletes from all over the world, and even follow with interest local hopeful Jean Stuczynski competing in the women’s pole vault event, thoughts come to mind of a fund that was established at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation just for local Olympic hopefuls., People’s Republic of China, until August 24,2008.
Individuals who participate in the Olympics have achieved a level of excellence in their particular sport through long hours of training, support from family, friends and coaches usually beginning at a very young age. The Laurie Baer Olympic Hopeful Fund is designed to assist those young athletes looking to pursue regional, state or world renowned competition.
On September 7, 1994, the crash of U.S. Air Fight 427 took the life of Laurie Baer. Mrs. Baer, an Ashville resident, grew up in the Wattsburg, PA, area. Besides being a computer programmer analyst at Welch’s in Westfield, she was co-owner of T & L Cycle in Lakewood with her husband, Tom, and was the mother of Emily Elizabeth, only four at the time of the crash. Mrs. Baer was an avid bicyclist.
Shortly after Mrs. Baer’s death, her family established the Laurie Baer Olympic Hopeful Fund as a result of her interest in sports. The fund is designed to assist talented young area athletes to achieve national and/or international success by assisting with their expenses associated with training and competition.
The athlete must be an elementary, middle school or high school student in the geographical area served by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. In order to be eligible, individuals must maintain at least a “C” in all school subjects, exceed in the skill and ability level of the school system they are attending and need to travel to national or regional championships or other competitions that will assist in the athlete’s continued development.
An example of a local athlete receiving assistance from the Foundation is Taylor Firth. Having skated since she was 7 years old, Ms. Firth, a National and International Medalist, was the 2007 Senior Ladies National Competitor. She trained at the Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena under the coaches of Kirk Wyse, Lenel van den Berg and Rob Schupp.
Funds such as the above are available through the Foundation’s Field of Interest Fund. Monthly requests for funding are accepted through the submission of an application located on-line at www.crcfonline.org. The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is proud to support our local young athletes and help them achieve their fullest potential in the sport of their choice. Someday, we may be watching future Olympians and recognize one of our own.
If you would like to help our local athletes achieve their dreams, make a gift to the Laurie Baer Olympic Hopeful Fund. It could make the difference for one of our local star athletes with talent to be successful. If you have an area of interest that is important to you, contact the Community Foundation office for details on how to create your own Field of Interest Fund. It can make a difference.