Mike Wiegele, the founder of Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, has funded several new awards at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) for students from the North Thompson and the Simpcw First Nation.
Wiegele donated $50,000 to fund 14 awards for students in the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism. The donation contributes to TRU’s Limitless Campaign to raise $50 million, coinciding with TRU’s 50th anniversary this year.
“I believe the future of the North Thompson Valley is tourism,” Wiegele said. “Tourism needs more financial support and better access to professional development. It’s important to develop and create a source of employment for young people, to be structured in hospitality, business and economics, and to aid young people in the North Thompson to achieve a high level of service and international standards.”
Just like TRU, Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing is also celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. Wiegele established the premier heli-ski resort in Blue River in 1970 and is marking five decades of operations with the community that made it possible. While the North Thompson faces economic struggles with the downturn in BC’s forest industry, it’s important to provide access to education for those who will enhance the future of tourism.
This year, two $8,000 scholarships for students from the Simpcw First Nation, and four entrance awards and four scholarships of $2,000 for students from the North Thompson will be awarded.
“We employ up to 240 people at the highest level of tourism with good-paying jobs,” Wiegele said.
“We would not be here today without the backing of the local community and we want to continue to give back to and support its residents.
“We greatly value our friendship with the Simpcw First Nation, with whom we share not only the mountains in which we work and play, but also the vision of sustainable and environmentally responsible economic development,” he added.
The donation also funds two Adventure Studies scholarships and two Adventure Studies leadership awards and provides additional funding for the program to purchase avalanche training equipment.
“The Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism gratefully acknowledges the generous donation by Mike Wiegele,” said Dean Douglas Booth.
“This donation will have an enormous impact on the lives of those students who receive scholarships. In addition to the financial support, the scholarships will also give students an introduction, and point of connection, to the Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing resort, a world-leading tourism operation in British Columbia. Through connections like this, TRU helps students find their way in the world while also assisting local tourism operators.”
Call Me Crazy, a film chronicling Mike Wiegele’s legendary life, is featured during the Kamloops Film Festival on March 6, at the Paramount Theatre.
So far, TRU’s Limitless Campaign has raised $43 million for student support, research, capital projects and equipment, and community initiatives. For more information, go to tru.ca/limitless