Willy Schaeffler Scholarship Fund Benefits Disabled Scholar-Athletes
The University of Denver's Willy Schaeffler Scholarship Fund provides tuition, as well as room and board to a disabled scholar-athlete to attend DU
Donate to the Willy Schaeffler Scholarship Fund (WSSF)
Willy, often called "America's Most Successful Ski Coach," coached the DU Pioneer Ski Team to 13 NCAA Ski Championship titles from 1951-1973, an NCAA record that still stands. He was the director of skiing events for the VIII Winter Olympic Games in 1960. Schaeffler also served as Alpine Director for the 1972 U.S. Olympic Ski Team during the Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, where his women's skiers won gold and bronze medals. Willy organized the first-ever amputee ski program, which started in 1968 at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, as a joint effort between the Denver Children's Hospital and the U.S. Army's Fitzsimmons Medical Center for its military amputees and other patients returning from wounds suffered in the Vietnam War.
Willy Schaeffler was similarly a renowned ski area developer and planner, having designed the runs for the Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., and Lake Placid, NY, as well as those in Mt. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada, the site of the alpine skiing events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Schaeffler also worked closely with Walt Disney and his Disney team on the planned development of Mineral King and Independence Lake in California. A native of Bavaria in southern Germany, Willy is one of Colorado's ski legends, having been long ago enshrined in the DU, U.S. National and Colorado ski halls of fame.
The purpose of the WSSF is twofold. First, it endeavors to assist a disabled scholar-athlete, preferably a competitive skier, in his or her efforts to study at the University of Denver and abroad. Second, it is meant to recognize and honor Willy Schaeffler's many years of profound dedication and contributions to people in the world of sport, and to carry on Willy's exemplary tradition, including a foremost dedication to academic performance.
As of March 2009, more than $200,000 had been contributed to the WSSF, and its market value rested at approximately $410,000. Thus, through third party donations, it is critically important that this endowment continue to grow. Donations toward the expenses of the current recipient are particularly helpful.
The first WSSF fundraising dinner was held in February 1989, in Beaver Creek's Village Hall, during the 1989 World Alpine Championships, and it attracted almost 500 supporters, including former President Gerald Ford, entertainer Andy Williams, sports and TV legend Frank Gifford and former U.S. Alpine Ski Coach John McMurtry.
Since its inception in 1986, five talented student-athletes have received a full-ride scholarship as five-year recipients of the WSSF.
The third WSSF recipient was Robby Shelton. He began his studies at the University of Denver in autumn 1997. During his time at DU, Shelton was actively training with the able-bodied skiers on the DU varsity team, and according to former DU championship ski team coach, Kurt Smits, more than held his own. It was his academics, however, that eventually maintained Shelton's full attention, and lead to his amazing story in biological research. Robby truly epitomizes the saying, "when one door shuts, another opens." To learn more about Robby, read this front page story from USA Today.
The WSSF was proud to have student-athlete Nick Catanzarite as its fifth recipient. Nick, 32, is a dual graduate major in law and international relations. In the first quarter of 2009, Nick competed in the world cup finals in Mt. Whistler-Blackcomb, Canada, in a test event for the 2010 Paralymics, as well in the U.S. Nationals in Winter Park (where he placed second in the giant slalom discipline). Nick Catanzarite is a two-time Paralympian, having competed for the U.S. national team in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in 2006 in Turino, Italy. In his previous summer, Nick interned as a law clerk with the Honorable McGahey, a judge in the Denver District Court. Nick is a product of the Winter Park Disabled Ski Program, and a current member of the U.S. National Adaptive Ski Team.
Stanton, whose right leg was amputated when he was six months old, competed on the Rochester Adams High School golf and ski teams, serving as captain for both teams as a junior and senior. Stanton won the Michigan Adaptive Sports Skiing State Championship in both 2011 and 2012. He also finished fourth at the 2012 Michigan High School Sports Association Skiing State Championship Qualifier, but he bypassed the State Championship in order to compete in the national Huntsman Cup in Park City, Utah, where he won both slalom and giant slalom to claim the overall championship.
The Willy Schaeffler Scholarship Fund has grown over time, to where it almost has the ability to fully support a scholarship for a disabled skier, thus fulfilling one of Willy's core goals. It was, however, Willy's ability to recruit blue chip able body skiers to DU, and their racing success, that lead to the winning record of the DU ski team. As the current team tries to continue in this storied tradition, having won its 23rd NCAA Division I skiing championship in 2016, they now more than ever need a lending hand with respect to financial support.
Please join the DU ski team family with your pledge to the WSSF and help us continue in our search for future DU national skiing champions. Funds may be targeted by the donor for either (or both) the WSSF endowment (for long term investment) or the current spending and tuition needs of the current WSSF recipient. The ultimate goal of the WSSF is to fully fund both a disabled and an able-bodied DU student athlete.
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