John F. Russell: Making a difference in your community

John F. Russell

— Pio Utu gets it.

Both of his children have long since graduated, but the longtime local still takes time out of his days to help high school and middle school athletes reach their potential on the field of competition through his training programs. But he gives a lot more than his time.

His smile inspires young athletes to come out for training and to work as hard as they can. His smile inspires young athletes to strive to be the best they can be, and the example he sets while smiling at the world is passed on to those he helps.

His efforts go beyond the walls of the gym and set an example of how we can all bring our community a little closer, a little stronger and, in the end, a little better. This week, Pio’s efforts will once again take center stage when he hosts the fourth annual Sailor Luau on Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs High School.

“It’s important for our community that we give back,” Pio said. “I want to help the Booster Club, I want to help the seniors and I want to help my community.
The luau will begin at 6 p.m. with Polynesian cuisine, and at 7:30, there will be a variety of local entertainment. Pio has always organized the event, ensuring the young students who will benefit from it are on hand to help prepare, serve and entertain the crowds of supporters who will come out.

Proceeds from the event go to the Pio Utu Scholarship and help support the Steamboat Springs Booster Club, whose efforts help pay for things that the school district just can’t afford in today’s world.

Pio could stand up and take all the credit, but he will not.

Instead, he thanks the Booster Club and the student athletes who come out to help cook the food, set up the tables and serve the food. Pio will tell you that, without those students, the event would not be possible. He may be right.

But just like his training sessions show students that a little hard work in preparation will make then faster, make them stronger and make them better on the field on competition, Luau also teaches them an important lesson — one that Pio learned a long time ago.

“I think giving back is one of the most important things we can do,” Pio said. “This is the athletes’ chance to come out and say thank you to the community.

Tickets for the Sailor Luau are on sale now at the Steamboat Springs High School, the Steamboat Springs Middle School, the Yampa Valley Bank and All That. Cost is $20 for adults, $10 for students in the Steamboat Springs School District and free for children younger than 5.

It’s a chance to support our local schools, support local students and show that people like Pio simply get it.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.