gO-ing in a new direction
gO bike. gO run. gO ski.
The initials for Griggs Orthopedics — a signature lower-case “g” and a big “O” — have become synonymous with outdoor activity in the Gunnison Valley. That’s because since Dr. Rhett Griggs first opened his private practice in 2012, the “performance side” of the business has supported high-caliber athletes, organized races and offered coaching.
All of these endeavors have fallen under the banner of supporting the community by promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering better athletes. That, Griggs and his staff realized, sounded a lot like the mission of a nonprofit.
With as much in mind, Griggs and his staff have formed a nonprofit called “gO Initiative” to oversee the various camps, races and development programs previously emblazoned with the “gO” brand.
From the launch of his practice, Griggs has maintained an active role in supporting mountain sports culture.
“Medical will always be our base, but if you have an option to put up a billboard sign on the side of the road or help people pursue their dreams and contribute to an active lifestyle, that’s much more effective,” he said. “It’s more about how we can be a part of and give back to the community.”
At the most basic level, the nonprofit — whose board is comprised of both Griggs employees and community members — is “intended to educate, inspire and develop athletes of all ages and abilities in mountain sports.”
For example, a few years ago, Griggs launched the gO girls mountain bike program — now under the auspices of gO Initiative — to help develop confidence and skills in young riders. This coming summer, girls 7 and older will meet at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area for five hours daily twice per week in June, July and August.
The hope behind gO Initiative is that the nonprofit will open the door for other individuals and organizations in the valley to lend support to such programs.
“A lot of it is still going to be powered by Griggs Orthopedics, but hopefully we can get some more community support and other stakeholders involved,” said Practice Manager Sarah Stubbe, who also serves on the gO Initiative board.
After helping Griggs organize camps for a few years, Stevie Kremer — a renowned runner and ski mountaineer — left her job teaching at Crested Butte Community School last August to begin work for Griggs. She’s serving as executive director of gO Initiative.
“In my head, I thought if I can still be working with kids in some capacity, I’m OK with leaving teaching,” she said. “Even when adults are learning to ski uphill, it’s a great feeling. It’s like when you see a kid learn how to read.”
In fact, education is a driving force behind the gO Initiative.
“We want to start early, educating these kids on the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle, mentally, physically and nutritionally,” Kremer explained. “But also older (people) who have gotten hurt or aren’t that healthy, we want to help them as well, and we have these camps for kids and adults.”
For instance, Griggs Orthopedics launched the first ski mountaineering camp in the U.S. three years ago. And gO Initiative now offers a Crested Butte Bike Week Day Camp and Grand Traverse Ski-mo Academy — both available to adults.
“We’re also moving away from individual sponsorships and creating more of a team,” Kremer said. “We still want to support athletes in the valley but not necessarily for how fast or strong they are. More for what good people they are both physically and by helping the community.”
The vision is to expand gO Initiative’s programs to other mountain communities as well, Stubbe says.
But, above all, Kremer says the hope is to keep gO Initiative’s offerings affordable for community members, for which the nonprofit offers scholarships.
“We don’t care about creating an Olympic athlete,” she said. “If someone wants to do that, great we’ll support you. But we just want everyone to get excited about what’s out there.”
For more information about gO Initiative, visit griggsortho.com/performance.
(Will Shoemaker can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)