a winning blend of fun and philanthropy
The end of the season in Verbier is marked by two events that take place at the same time: the Verbier High Five by Carlsberg, a fun-filled occasion that gives members of the public the chance to take on professional skiers; and the Charity Night, where diners rub shoulders with the stars of the slopes, all in a good cause.
It has been 12 years since former Téléverbier CEO Éric-A. Balet organised the inaugural Charity Night. Still at the helm of the event, Balet’s goal is to raise money for a number of charities and help young athletes by bringing eight members of the public and two VIPs or snow-sports stars together around a ten-seat table for a delicious meal. There are 25 tables in all, each of which sell for a price of CHF 4,000. The 11 Charity Nights held to date have raised a total of nearly CHF 700,000.
The evening’s main beneficiary is Right to Play. Founded in 2001, it aims to educate children, protect them from war and conflict, exploitation and early marriage, and offer them the precious ray of freedom that is play. As well as giving them time to themselves, play allows them to be children, to forget about the demands made of them, and to think about their futures.
The story goes back to 1994, the year Lillehammer hosted the Olympic Winter Games, when the Norwegian speed skater and four-time Olympic champion Johann Olav Koss went to Eritrea on a humanitarian mission. Faced with truly harrowing scenes, he was saddened that all he had to offer in response were toys. The nation’s president was nevertheless delighted he had brought them: “They are the most beautiful gift anyone has ever given us,” he said. “It’s the first time we’ve been treated like human beings, not like things that have to be kept alive. For the first time our children can go and play like children do everywhere else.” The charity promptly set up in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mali, Thailand, Rwanda, and the Palestinian Territories. Today, 1.9 million children in around 15 countries across the world benefit from its programmes, which offer equal opportunities for girls, combat violence, prevent illness, and promote respect.
The Charity Night raises money for two other organisations: the Verbier Freeride Association and Aide Sportive Suisse, which helps the country’s young athletes overcome financial obstacles so they can progress in their sports.
The 12th Charity Night takes place on 5 April 2019. If you would like to share a table with a skiing star, then you might just be in luck: helvet has a place (worth CHF 500) to give away to one of its readers, who will be accompanied by its editor-in-chief Christian Bugnon.