Nonprofit Common Ground raises money for outdoor activities

Common Ground’s first-ever March for Snow Benefit offered visitors fire pits with s’mores, catering by Café Sabor and a live band. The nonprofit organization held the benefit at its office Saturday night. USU students were there as volunteers to help with the event. Common Ground is a local organization that aims to provide outdoor recreational opportunities of all kinds for persons with disabilities. “Someone that has a disability might not otherwise be able to go out and ski all day, but with Common Ground, their adaptive equipment, it makes that possible,” said Kaitlin Eyre, a Common Ground volunteer and senior majoring in recreation resource management at USU. Founded in 1993, the program is supported through grants, individual donations, program fees and fundraisers similar to the March for Snow Benefit. Jami Dickerson, Common Ground special events coordinator, said March for Snow was a celebration as well as a benefit. “Our ski program this year has done awesome,” Dickerson said. “There have been a lot of people really enjoying it, and so I think this (benefit) is kind of just to celebrate winter here in Cache Valley. It’s fun to go out and have some live music and food if it’s for a good cause.” Dickerson said all earnings from March for Snow will pay for the repair and purchasing of new winter recreational equipment for persons with disabilities. For $15-20, participants could eat Cafe Sabor and hear local band Wasatch Back play requests from audience members, and for $1, participants could enter their names into a raffle for prizes donated by businesses in the community. Eyre said she has been volunteering with Common Ground for a semester. “As a volunteer, we try to help staff events like this one. They need people to sell raffle tickets and help educate other people about what Common Ground is,” Eyre said. Some activities offered to Common Ground participants include cycling, trips to national parks, alpine skiing, river rafting and rock climbing. All of the organization’s activities are made possible for the disabled through the use of adapted and specialized equipment, paid for in large part by donations. Eyre said she has loved every minute of her time volunteering at Common Ground. “Since my major is recreation, I really wanted to try to do something outside,” she said. “When I heard about Common Ground, I was like, ‘That’s a perfect fit!’ It’s right up my alley in terms of things I’m good at doing.” The things Eyre has done include manning a booth at the Banff Film Festival, updating Common Ground’s blog and using her Beaver Mountain season pass to act as a bulldogger most Saturdays, skiing in front of people to keep them safe, she said. Quinn Larson, a junior majoring in environmental studies at USU, also volunteers for Common Ground, and has done so for three months. He said he and Eyre act as representatives to the College of Natural Resources in an attempt to get more people in their college volunteering, and Common Ground is willing to take more volunteers. “They’re really excited to have anyone, especially students,” he said. Dickerson said with four staff members, Common Ground relies heavily on volunteer work. “Volunteers are our lifeline. We really rely on the community and Utah State community to come and volunteer and help us with the activities,” she said. Eyre said Common Ground works very well with student schedules, and if more volunteers are available, more participants can benefit from the organization’s services.

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