Jeff Jurecki loved many things. He loved his family, especially wife Erica and daughters Charlotte and Hannah. He loved his devoted circle of friends. He loved Tracks, the Mountain Village café and bar that he and Erica opened back in 2005, and the staff there, who, according to Erica, he considered family.
He loved welding art pieces for family and friends, and he loved NASCAR and Ohio-style corn roasts.
Jeff Jurecki also loved One to One Mentoring’s annual Cardboard Sled Derby.
It is fitting, then, that this year’s derby will be dedicated to Jurecki, who unexpectedly passed away in September.
“It was a unanimous decision because of Jeff’s enthusiasm for the event,” One to One Mentoring Executive Director Tara Kelley said. “As soon as his kids were old enough, he was so excited, so into it. He helped them make their sled — the one I remember was a pirate ship. Both the girls rode in it. He was going to put his kids’ sled on display in front of Tracks. He was so proud.”
Erica Jurecki agreed that her husband had a real affection for the event. “We have been owning and operating Tracks Café and Bar for almost 15 years and over the many years, Jeff always enjoyed helping folks with tape and whatever needs they had for emergency fix ups at the Cardboard Sled Derby.”
She added that once Jeff had children of his own, he not only looked forward to the day when his own kids would take part, but had also developed some tricks up his sleeve.
“He would spray some kind of grease on the bottom of the sled, but it turns out it would just make it slower,” she recalled. “The kids have amazing memories of building sled creations with their daddy. The pirate ship for sure took the cake in their sled-making history.”
This year’s event will be held on Saturday at the Telluride Ski Resort’s NASTAR race course. It’s open to all 5- to 14-year-olds, including kids from across San Miguel County, as well as part-time residents and visitors. Participants race their sleds, which must be handmade using just corrugated cardboard, paint, tape and glue, with string or rope for handles.
The event raises funds to support One to One Mentoring’s work matching young people in San Miguel County with mentors. For the sled derby, the local business community is encouraged to sponsor the sleds. Businesses that donate $350 to $750 get to have their logo featured on one to five sleds, depending on their level of giving, as well as mentions from the emcees at the event and promotion in social and local media.
Kelley pointed out that One to One Mentoring relies solely on donations and grants to support its scholarship programs, which give mentees access to signature Telluride activities like ski PE and after-school and summer camps and classes.
“The programs and services One to One provides rely solely on donations and grants,” Kelley said. “The kids can then enjoy all the things that so many of us enjoy about living here. We genuinely couldn’t survive without the generosity of our community, so we are asking them again for their support.”
Kelley remarked that, like Jeff Jurecki, the Cardboard Sled Derby is her favorite event of the year, too. “It’s so fun. I love it because it is the one big event in town that is just for the kids.”
One to One Mentoring’s board president, Dan Zemke, a former neighbor of the Jurecki family who counted Jeff a friend, described him as an important figure in the community.
“Jeff always had a passion for NASCAR and — because the Cardboard Sled Derby is racing — the derby, too,” Zemke said. “I think he would be honored to know that he is a part of the One to One family by having this event dedicated to him.”
Added Erica Jurecki, “I am so grateful and so honored for One to One dedicating this year’s derby to Jeff, and the girls are so thrilled. He is sending his love from above.”
For more information on supporting One to One Mentoring’s Cardboard Sled Derby, contact Tara Kelley at 970-728-0885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on participating, visit onetoonetelluride.org/fundraising-events/cardboard-sled-derby.