A charity dedicated to helping Elk Valley youth pursue their passions is facing the highest demand in history. So much so, the organization has reached capacity and is no longer accepting 2018/19 winter applications.
In the 13 years that the Emily Brydon Youth Foundation (EBYF) has been in operation, it has never received so many requests for financial assistance.
Since 2006, the foundation has raised $430,000 for youth in the valley, helping on average 200 youth per year.
Since June, the foundation has processed over 130 applications – some for entire sports teams.
Founder Emily Brydon said in a way, this is cause for celebration but also a cause to brainstorm how they can meet the increased demand.
“I’m really proud the people in the community are seeing the EBYF as a safe place that can help and support them, and that’s something to be proud of,” said Brydon.
“There’s a growing need,” she added.
“There’s some amazing programs in Fernie and the Elk Valley, kids are getting more access to things. These are great stories, the hard part is when now we have to start saying no to some of them.”
Brydon said rest assured, the program isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re here to stay and we want to keep making a difference,” she said.
Every year since 2006, the foundation has continued to attract more funding but the population of youth striving to succeed in either sports, arts or education is also on the rise.
Brydon attributed this to a combination of more programs and services being available, as well as changes in healthcare support from the government and cost of living, and a booming youth population.
“The foundation was started because a community and family in Fernie gave me an opportunity to go chase my dreams and goals and empowered me to do,” said Brydon.
“When my father died, both the community and family came together and they believed in me probably more than I did.
“They gave me an opportunity, financially, to say okay, let’s go give it a chance… Without either of them, my ski racing racing career would have been non-existent.”
Brydon went on to compete around the world, reaching the podium on the World Cup circuit nine times – five in downhill, three in super G and one in combined. In 2006 she competed in the Winter Olympics. Brydon went on to take gold at the St. Moritz World Cup in 2008 and competed in the Olympics again in 2010.
In 2006, Brydon decided to make her ski career bigger than her and give back to those who helped her.
“Out of the gate, we said we wanted to support youth in the Elk Valley through sports, arts or education.” said Brydon.
“Sports happens to be my channel of expression or pursuit, but it doesn’t mean that education or arts is any less valuable.”
At the end of the day, Brydon says that every youth should have equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, regardless of their background.
She admitted it takes courage to reach out and admit that you need help, but she’s happy that her organization has reached the point where people are comfortable asking.
For now it’s back to the drawing board for Brydon and her team as they brainstorm ways to combat this increased need for funding.
“This foundation is truly a community foundation and I’m massively grateful, and thankful for all the volunteering and support and donations we have received from the start,” said Brydon.
“It’s just going to get bigger.”
The next EBYF fundraiser event will be announced in the near future. Summer applications to the foundation will open on February 1.
To learn more about how to apply or donate, visit Emilybrydonyouthfoundation.com.