Shames Mountain is introducing a new fund this season to honour one of its founders who dreamed big and made it all possible.
With hopes to entice more youth to pursue their own snow hill dreams, the ‘Billey Season Pass Fund’ was created this season to commemorate the passing of Curtis Billey, a founding member and accountant.
“He was the best friend of the mountain…the ski hill wouldn’t have existed without Billey,” says Christian Theberge, general manager at Shames Mountain. “He was always one of the first ones to come out and swing a hammer, paint and do whatever was necessary on the hill.”
Billey passed away at age 58 this past spring from a heart attack during a backcountry ski trip. Although he had retired a few years ago, he was still very active with the sport and was at Shames Mountain almost every day. He continued to help the co-op with the accounting side of things and even secured the last bit of the Northern Development Fund for $10,000 in the weeks before his death.
Theberge says Billey’s accounting knowledge and business network was what made the co-op run from the beginning. He was one of the four members that founded Shames in 2010, donating his own personal truck for staff use at the mountain.
“He was always available for anybody with questions or advice, he knew this community very well and its political side — he’s known to us today as one of Terrace’s best and strongest silent heroes.”
Each year, the Billey Season Pass Fund will sponsor one young person, from 13 to 20-years old that’s either local or from Northwest, by providing them with a free Youth Season Pass valued at $650. Theberge says they want someone to have it who demonstrates a passion for the sport but may not have the resources to pursue it.
By using the interest accumulated from the co-op’s savings account, Theberge says they wanted to create a sustainable bursary that would be available for future generations. Staff at the co-op often hear memorable stories of young people’s paths that led them into skiing or snowboarding, and the pass is a way they can help them reach their goals. The criteria is intentionally broad to encourage a wide variety of applicants.
Billey’s wife and two children were keen on making the fund available as soon as possible as they wanted someone to benefit from it and to “allow him to continue to be that invisible hero.” When he died, his family requested that donations be given to the ski hill in lieu of flowers.
Some of his close friends at Shames have implemented other ideas. There will be a chairlift sign with his name and an existing ski run area to be renamed as “Billey’s Buffet.”
“When some people pass away, they might want a billboard… but that was not Curtis, he would not want a statue or a big thing for us to look at,” says Theberge. “For us to be able to have this season’s pass, something that simple, can have us all remembering who he was and why it’s there.”
Deadline is Jan. 15, 2019.
Shames is set to open on the weekend of Dec. 15.