The annual family ski trip can get kind of boring, right? Well, a good way to spice things up is to invite a hundred people and raise a thousands of dollars for charity.
That’s what the DeTrempe family of Barrington did when they founded their nonprofit, the Alpine Children’s Charity, which focuses on helping kids, and finding cures for diseases that affect children. In the past six years, the organization has raised more than $1 million.
“We wanted to make our trips more meaningful and we wanted to do something ourselves,” says Hank DeTrempe, now a high school senior, who came up with the idea with his three brothers—Luke, Jack and Nick—and eight cousins, all ages nine to 19, after a long day of skiing. Jack, who is now in college, has Type 1 diabetes.
The charity raises its money through two annual sporting events—a ski-athon in Colorado that draws between 100 and 150 participants, and a small golf outing in Crystal Lake. The group is hoping to add a third event soon. They’ve donated the proceeds from such events to organizations including the Children’s Heart Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
With the guidance of parents, the roughly 20 kids on the junior board do the serious work of running the charity. They’ve made presentations to sponsors—winning over Vail Resorts among other businesses—built and maintained the website, served as media reps on TV and the radio, recruited their friends, taken in pledges, and run the events themselves.
“I have learned how to work with others and how to present ideas in the most effective way,” Luke says.
For their tremendous efforts, the Junior Board members were recognized by Congressman Mark Kirk in 2005, and in 2005 they received the Chicago Bears Community Quarterback Award, including a $5,000 grant from Chicago Community Trust.
Mom Cindy DeTrempe couldn’t be prouder of her family. “They say, ‘Mom, I have a meeting,’ ” she says. “It helps them go from ‘Oh my gosh, I have diabetes, how is my world going to change?’ to ‘How am I going to make the world a better place for others?’ ”
The family’s seventh annual ski-athon will take place during the last week of March in 2011. “It’s brought me closer to my family, and, having reached the $1 million mark, we couldn’t be more excited,” Hank says.
His brother, Luke, sums it up: “Through this experience, I’ve become a better person.”