Sledz on Rez raises nearly $12K for SkillsUSA competition

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February 7, 2022, Pagosa Springs CO – Build Pagosa announces that its annual Sledz on Rez sled derby, held January 24 at Pagosa Springs’ 2022 WinterFest weekend celebration, grossed $11,450. Funds are earmarked to support Pagosa Springs High School finalists who will be heading to the SkillsUSA national competition in Atlanta, GA, June 20-24.

More than 300 people attending the fundraiser cheered on the 23 entries – steered by participants ranging in age from 5 yrs to adult – as they raced down the course at Reservoir Hill. Colorful and creative sleds (a taco, train, coffin, Christmas present, shark, to name a few) braved the somewhat bumpy ride to win prizes donated by area businesses and organizations from the community. A team from Nashville vacationing here even joined the fun on the spur of the moment.

“Last year our event and the SkillsUSA competitions were canceled due to Covid concerns, so it was good to see so many people attending and having a great time,” says Tor Hessman, Instructor for PSHS’s Building Trades Program. “SkillsUSA is a wonderful way for our young people to test themselves and prove that they are able to compete and win. It is a confidence booster and builds morale.”

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. The membership association offers local, state and national opportunities for students to learn and practice personal, workplace and technical skills.

This year at the regional competition in Durango, 20 PSHS students competed in a variety of events, including welding, carpentry, cabinetmaking, computer programming, CSI, and teamwork, with 16 earning spots at the state SkillsUSA competition in Colorado Springs, April 6-8.

Approximately $7,000 of funds raised at Sledz on Rez will cover expenses of those students who place at the upcoming state event and move on to the national competition. Build Pagosa has been committed to paying expenses for finalists, which includes travel, entry fees, and accommodations.

“The school district pays students’ way for regional and state competitions, yet in the past those who qualified for national competition had to come up with the funds necessary to cover expenses for an out-of-state competition on their own,” comments Hessman. “Build Pagosa’s support ensures that no one is left behind due to financial difficulties.”

Part of the proceeds from the Sledz on Rez fundraiser will also go towards purchase of 25 new SkillsUSA jackets to replace worn ones now years old. The rest will support Build Pagosa’s vision of collaborating with the community to provide a skilled workforce through public-private partnerships, financial support, and workforce training.

“To be honest, we didn’t know what kind of response or turnout we’d get at this year’s event,” remarks Build Pagosa’s President Larry Ash. “Plus, conditions for sledding were not good. But it turns out we raised even more money than we did for our previous derby in 2020. That shows how committed this community is toward support of its young people. The generosity of the businesses, organizations, and people who live here is commendable.”

“And a special shout-out goes to the students who helped oversee and run the event,” says Ash. “Every year these kids voluntarily step up to make sure Sledz goes smoothly and safely for everyone involved. It’s great to see how willing they are to support not only Build Pagosa’s vision but also their fellow students by taking a Saturday to help out. It’s inspiring.”

Check out more information on SkillsUSA at or contact Tor Hessman at Pagosa Springs High School. To learn more about Build Pagosa, a 401c3 nonprofit organization, and its upcoming events and various programs to support the Pagosa Springs community, head to