Boarders hit the rails at Chill Jam

February 09, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A group of guys got together Wednesday evening to put not just their hearts, but their whole bodies, into fundraising.

Their efforts yielded a few bruises - but even more smiles and laughter - in an experience they said was all about friendship.

The guys, with a few girls thrown into the mix, bundled up, grabbed snowboards and hit the slopes for the Double Trouble Chill Jam at Whitetail Mountain Resort to benefit inner-city youth in an event organized by middle-schoolers.


"We wanted to give back to Chill," said Travers O'Leary, 14, from Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, Md.

Last year, Travers and his twin brother, Reagan O'Leary, first learned about the Chill program, which began in 1995 as a way to get children out of the city for a few hours and give them an opportunity to snowboard.

Lately, the boys have been sharing the slopes at Whitetail with the Chill children once a week.

"They're really cool," said Travers. "Most of them haven't been out of the city much."

The boys hosted the jam that had 48 snowboarders rail jamming, which involves using metal rails as the launch pad to try various tricks.

Jam riders, mostly in their teens but as young as 5, vied for a "best trick" title by doing spins, grabbing the end of their board and gaining some serious height.

They congratulated each other on accomplished tricks and commiserated after failed ones.

That camaraderie is the same discovered through participation in the Chill program, according to a couple of its instructors.

"The kids love it," said Billy Johnston of Chambersburg, Pa.

"They're so excited," echoed Josh Lowman of Clear Spring.

The two said Burton Snowboards, which coordinates the program, joins with sponsors and donors to pay for all the equipment and lift tickets for the youth from 14 cities across the country. Whitetail accommodates the young snowboarders from Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

The Double Trouble Chill Jam raised money through donations and a $20 registration fee. It also fulfilled community service hours required by the twins' school.

The event raised $1,260, according to Kevin O'Leary, the twins' father.

"We hope to have a lot more (rail jams)," said Reagan, who started snowboarding two years ago with his brother.

Sponsors donated what Reagan called "all this swag" as prizes and giveaways for the noncompetitive rail jam.

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