Realtors to provide long-term funding for WASP 

The Association of Whistler Realtors has awarded the Whistler Adaptive Sport Program $10,000 a year for the next six years.

The funds will be raised through the association’s annual Festival of Lights gala.

"I was completely and utterly surprised," said Sian Blyth, program director for WASP. "I got a call from them on Wednesday that they ‘had a little something to present.’ When they made the announcement on stage Saturday my initial thought was ‘wow, $10,000!’ And then to realize it’s every year for six years…."

It’s hoped the money will help get local athletes with disabilities to reach the podium in 2010 when Whistler and Vancouver will host the Olympics, said association chair Anne Chiasson.

When the realtors were looking around for a recipient for the money they first looked at funding alpine skiers. But, said Chiasson: "We felt we couldn’t make a big difference in a big pond. But we could make a big difference in the smaller pond of the Paralympics and WASP has been doing such a great job that when we polled our membership there was 100 per cent go for it.

"The Real Estate Group was very excited to be a part of this and being a committed sponsor for the next six years."

Blyth said knowing the money is coming for the next six years is extremely valuable to WASP and will help the program grow.

"And also to have that community, the realtors, behind us is really important. I’m proud to have them support us, and more and more people in Whistler supporting us," said Blyth.

The Whistler Adaptive Sport Program, in its current form, got underway in 1999. WASP provided 50 lessons to disabled skiers that winter. Last winter WASP provided more than 500 lessons.

The realtors’ money may even be doubled as WASP hopes to use the funds to get matching dollars from other sources.

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