Tonight, the Bayfield High School girls soccer team could see its budget double, with money enough to finally send its girls to national collegiate soccer camps. The Durango High School boys lacrosse team could see a dozen brand-new helmets show up in its equipment bag to protect teenagers from concussions.
And the Fort Lewis College athletics department could be able to offer a few more athletic scholarships to help it march toward more Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference victories.
Because tonight, when seven-time Emmy Award-winning ESPN journalist and actor Roy Firestone dances, jokes, motivates, sings and otherwise performs at FLCs Community Concert Hall, thousands of dollars in ticket sales will go straight into local athletic departments coffers.
Its cool. Its really cool, especially when you get three local community schools to be involved in the same thing, Bayfield Athletic Director Dave Preszler said. Its pretty dang cool.
After Firestone waived his speaking fee, the Durango Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the Firestone performance along with BP, donated 100 show tickets apiece to the BHS, DHS and FLC athletic departments to sell for the financial benefit of their programs.
We really sometimes overlook the benefit of having a small-town area (athletics) and being part of that and supporting for the best of reasons ... If I can be supportive of that ... Im all for it, Firestone said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald.
At $20 a ticket, the sales could fetch as much as $2,000 for each athletic department.
At Bayfield, Preszler said all 100 tickets went to the girls soccer team.
BHS girls soccer coach Jen Zelinski said the team had sold about 80 of its 100 tickets by Monday evening, already coming close to doubling her near-$2,000 budget.
Any fundraiser that adds extra money to your budget line is going to be a positive thing, Preszler said.
And with the recession still whittling away school budgets, Zelinski said fewer and fewer people have had spare money to donate to local programs.
She said shes always wanted to send some of her girls to big-time university soccer camps in the offseason but hasnt had the money.
Its a very big deal, especially with the way the economy is, Zelinksi said. I mean, this is huge for us. How many celebrities go and do something like that?
At Durango, the 100 tickets were split between the dance team and the boys lacrosse team, DHS Athletic Director Sheldon Keresey said.
At FLC, Hunter said outside fundraising is an everyday, all-day battle for programs that constantly are looking to improve their budget situation.
So far, he said, FLC has sold between 50 and 60 of its 100 tickets, but hes hoping to sell the rest by showtime.
The money raised will go into the departments general fund to be used for scholarships because right now, many of the departments scholarship budgets are not at full funding, he said.
Chamber Manager Rita Davis said she was able to set up the fundraiser and performance based on a long-standing friendship with Firestone that began over the phone almost 20 years ago.
Through the years, the two have kept in touch and, after performing at the chambers first awards dinner a few years ago, Firestone recently called to say hed like to come back.
Firestone said hes been to Durango three times. He called it one of Colorados best-kept secrets with its great railroad, hotels and community, resort-town feel and not-too-touristy, not-too-crowded vibe.
Plus, he said, theres great skiing something the chamber is helping him out with this weekend.
Instead of his usual speaking fee, which Davis said can range in the tens-of-thousands of dollars, the chamber and BP have collaborated to pay for Firestones airfare, accommodations and a two-day ski vacation.
BPs Julie Levy said the company provided the chamber with a $10,000 grant to help cover both Firestones performance and a presentation by leadership guru Tommy Spaulding in May.
Were engaged in a wide range of sports sponsorships in the community because it really is a great cross-section of who we are in the community, Levy said.
In addition to the 350 tickets donated to the schools, Davis said the chamber is selling the remaining 250 to fill the nearly 600-person capacity concert hall. Those ticket sales will go to cover some of the chambers overhead costs, and whatever is left over will be divided evenly among the three programs.
Firestone also will hold a book-signing after the performance, and he said he plans to donate those proceeds to a community charity, as well. Firestone is the author of two books: Up Close with Roy Firestone and Dont Make Me Cry, Roy.
Firestone himself described the review as humorous, inspiring and poignant. He said he draws on sports, entertainment and his own background and experiences, and he said hes got some Durango-specific material incorporated into his program just for tonights audience.
In particular, he said he plans to honor Bayfield for its continued athletic excellence and FLC for its accomplishments both on the soccer pitch and on the mountain bike trails.
Theyve put a lot of people in the national spotlight. I just think its a cool place, Firestone said. FLC ... is a really, really great community school. Theyre always achieving things, and I really admire the fact that they keep a really high academic standard, as well.