Sailors Booster Club to host virtual fundraiser for scholarship fund |

Sailors Booster Club to host virtual fundraiser for scholarship fund

Instead of the annual luau, the Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club is hosting a three-fold event to raise money for the Pio Utu Scholarship and the booster club. The fundraiser features a live zoom event, silent auction and Dine Out for Sailors week. (Courtesy of SSHS Booster Club)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Having a virtual luau would have been quite a contradiction for Steamboat Springs High School since a luau, a gathering of people, can’t really be held virtually.

The Sailors Booster Club has a three-pronged event lined up to take the place of the luau, but the goals are still the same: Raise money for the Booster Club, the Pio Utu Scholarship and recognize student athletes.

In order to have some sort of “gathering,” there will still be a live event at 6:30 p.m. May 3, where athletes will be honored, awarded and celebrated. Steamboat Radio’s Brian Harvey will emcee, as three-sport athletes and athlete of the year are awarded. A few figures will speak including Luke DeWolfe, high school athletic director.

Funds go towards the Pio Utu Scholarship, which is awarded to graduating senior athletes who “exhibit qualities inspired by Pio” that inspire the community. After not hosting an event to fund the scholarship, this year’s event is more important than ever.

Who is Pio Utu?

Utu is a familiar face around Steamboat Springs athletics. He has been working with youth in athletics in Steamboat for 26 years, but never in an official position. He volunteers hours every morning to work with athletes, and after early workouts, is known to take seniors out to breakfast and talk about whatever is on their mind.

The school has tried to hire him in the past, but he is determined to stay a volunteer, saying he can reach more kids that way. In 2008, he was recognized by the 9News program, 9 Who Care, and in 2009, prompted by a group of moms, the first luau and scholarship program was funded. In 2017, he was named Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Philanthropist of the Year.

“It’s vital,” said Steamboat Springs Booster Club committee member Mollie Rusher. “Without being able to have a scholarship program, it hurts the community as a whole.”

Typically the luau features a silent auction for which each team contributes an item. The virtual silent auction has ballooned to double its usual size. There are more than 100 items ranging in value from $55 to $15,000, led by a four-night stay at Three Forks Ranch.

The auction begins April 26th and can be viewed at

Teams were able to gather massive baskets of donations, so they were divided to allow for more affordable items.

Steamboat Springs volleyball coach Wendy Hall stands with a group of students during the 2016 luau. (Courtesy of SSHS Booster Club)

“We’ve got some really amazing items and something for everybody,” said Rusher. “From vacations to golf, dining out gift certificates, hiking packages, things like that.”

Other items include a gift basket from Paws ‘n Claws, an apres ski basket that includes a gift card to Truffle Pig and more.

One basket is titled “Steamboat Pride” and includes vintage jerseys worn by head boys basketball coach Michael Vandahl when he was a student.

A gift basket titled "Steamboat Pride" includes a vintage jersey worn by head boys basektball coach Michael Vandahl when he was in high school among other Sailors swag. (Courtesy of SSHS Booster Club)

The auction concludes at 8 p.m. May 3, the night of the live event.

The final aspect of the event is food. The days leading up to the live event, April 29 to May 3, is Dine Out for Sailors Week. The Booster Club is partnering with five local restaurants that are giving a portion of the proceeds to the club on a certain night. Businesses include the following:

April 29: Moe’s Original BBQ

April 30: Skull Creek Greek

May 1: Hypnotic Chicken

May 2: The Egg

May 3: Papa Murphy’s

On the night of the live event, supporters can order Papa Murphy’s, perhaps, a Hawaiian pizza to stick with the former luau theme.

“You really have to take Papa Murphy’s home,” said Rusher. ”And we want them to go home because we want them to go home and turn on their computers and watch the live event and pay attention to the auction. That was the logic behind our lineup there.”

Dine Out for Sailors supports local restaurants and a portion of sales will go to the Steamboat Springs High School Booster Club. (Courtesy of SSHS Booster Club)


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