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Sports and El Pomar

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Josie Burke

El Pomar’s monthly all-staff meeting, which took place yesterday morning, featured a sports theme that was hard to miss. It was held in the El Pomar Carriage Museum, which houses a number of old race cars that still look ready to take off at any moment. And it featured guest reports from Tom Osborne (President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation) and Chris Carmichael (Lance Armstrong’s coach and head of Colorado Springs-based Carmichael Training Systems).

Making grants to support nonprofits involved with sports has always been part of El Pomar’s giving strategy, but the reasons why are not completely obvious. So, with a summer full of sports activities supported by El Pomar in full swing, we thought the time was right to lend a little perspective and answer the question you might have: exactly why does the Foundation support sporting events, athletic organizations, and other efforts that revolve around sports?

As with everything that the Foundation does, the answer goes back to founders Spencer and Julie Penrose. During their lives, Spencer and Julie Penrose exhibited a strong appreciation for the community-building ability of sports. Spencer Penrose created the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb as a way to exhibit the beauty of Colorado Springs and draw visitors to the city. Penrose’s Broadmoor Hotel once featured the Broadmoor Ice Palace, home to the Broadmoor Skating Club and the first editions of the Colorado College ice hockey team.

Since El Pomar’s inception in 1937, the Foundation has made more than $50 million in grants to support sports at all levels. Foundation grant dollars have gone toward facilities like the El Pomar Natatorium in Grand Junction, the El Pomar Youth Sports Park in Colorado Springs and the new (and old) United State Olympic Committee headquarters. Other support goes toward events like the upcoming Rocky Mountain State Games and United States Women’s Open.

During his remarks yesterday, Osborne commented on the 14 records broken over the weekend at the Hill Climb and the enormous crowds that filled every available spot along the course. Carmichael talked about the upcoming USA Pro Cycling Challenge that will start with a prologue in Colorado Springs in late August and play to a nationwide audience through coverage on Versus and NBC. Although one was talking about cars and the other talking about bikes, Osborne and Carmichael shared one common trait: passion. It was palpable in the room and a great reminder of the power of sports to create energy and bring a community together.