Rivers and oceans — and the people who paddle them — are getting a helping, protective hand, thanks to a new endowment fund created in the mountain town of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Created in honor of born and raised Steamboat Springs local Nick Simon, who passed away at age 25 last fall in a tragic car accident while on a surfing trip in New Zealand, the NICK WOULD Foundation is a new endowment fund helping people get outside, preserve the environment, and pursue artistic development by removing barriers and making these activities accessible to all.
The fund is a donor-advised fund of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, with all annual donations merit-based and targeted around expanding access to outdoor pursuits, wildland exploration, and artistic development to those who otherwise might not experience these activities for physical, cognitive, or economic reasons.
Nick Simon, who passed away Oct. 27 at age 25, was passionate about each of these activities, from kayaking and rafting to climbing, surfing, skiing, biking and more. “It’s the fund’s intention to help spread these experiences to honor Nick’s legacy,” says Nick’s father and the fund’s board president, Dan Simon. “Nick loved to share his excitement and stoke for the outdoors and the arts with anyone who joined in these pursuits, and this will help spread this stoke for thousands of people into the future.”
Grants bequeathed in 2023 include $3,500 to local Steamboat nonprofit Friends of the Yampa, which will support scholarships for the organization’s Youth River Camps on the Yampa River; $2,500 to Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports (joining an additional $15,000 raised through fundraising), helping its efforts to take people with disabilities outside, including paddling; and $4,000 to California’s Windansea Surf Club/Me Water Foundation, teaching youth and those with physical disabilities how to surf. In all, nearly $25,000 was granted in the fund’s inaugural year, with a similar amount expected to be granted in 2024—whose funding cycle plans also include funding a ski video competition for aspiring filmmakers.
Nick lived his 25 years as fully as anyone, squeezing the nectar out of every day and changing the world by inspiring all who had the privilege of sharing in his energetic orbit. An old soul with a special, golden spirit, his love, warmth, humor, and zest for life was infectious and intoxicating to be around. Born and raised in Steamboat, Nick embodied everything that makes his hometown special. A hockey player and Alpine racer with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, he progressed to freestyle and big mountain skiing, competing on the Big Mountain Tour for several seasons. Never missing an opportunity to be outside, he was also an accomplished rafter, kayaker, surfer, mountain biker, rock climber, fly fisherman and more, completing a three-month NOLS trip in the Himalayas, backpacking trip through Europe, commercial fishing stint in Alaska, solo bike-packing trip on the Colorado Trail and more. He was also a highly gifted musician and songwriter, with more than 50 of his songs discovered after his death. But the thing he did best was love.
“The concept of NICK WOULD is much more than approaching life boldly,” Dan says. “It means Nick gave us all lessons in life that we should take away. He wasn’t just a great athlete with an appetite for adrenaline; he was also a talented musician with a sensitive and caring heart. He was always the first one to offer a helping hand, which is what we’re doing with this foundation, a vehicle to share his legacy for generations to come.”
Sell your bitcoin, bet on the Nuggets or cash out in real estate at the right time? To make a tax-deductible donation (and subscribe to the foundation’s free newsletter) visit www.nickwould.com (or donate here); or send check (memo: “NICK WOULD Foundation”) to Yampa Valley Community Foundation (a 501c-3), PO Box 881869, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487. Have an idea for a program to fund? Email ideas to email@example.com.
About the NICK WOULD Foundation: Established to share opportunities to experience the thrill of outdoor sport, wild land exploration and artistic development by removing barriers and making these activities accessible to all, the NICK WOULD Foundation is a Donor Advised Fund of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, a 501c3 organization. EIN #84-0794536. Learn more/donate at www.nickwould.com or www.yvcf.org/nicksimon.