Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Olympic Moguls Champion Jenn Heil Raises $1 Million for Girls' Health, Education

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Olympic Moguls Champion Jenn Heil Raises $1 Million for Girls' Health, Education

Article excerpt

Heil raises $1 million to help girls


Caught up in the euphoria of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, moguls skier Jenn Heil blurted out at the conclusion of the Games that she intended to raise $1 million for the Because I am a Girl campaign.

Then she took a big gulp.

"I think I got very excited and swept away in Vancouver," Heil said.

"Everything felt possible in Vancouver. So I said the million dollars and then I was terrified that I'd put that out there because I had no plan on how to go about it."

But Heil is a woman accustomed to risk as her sport requires her to ski as fast as she can over bumps and jumps.

She won Olympic gold in 2006 and silver four years later in Vancouver.

Heil has reached her campaign target and is actually closer to $1.1 million, she said.

Plan Canada's Because I am a Girl program operates on the premise that if a girl is nourished and has safe environment and an education, she can raise the standard of living for not only herself and her family, but her community as well.

The International Day of the Girl, initiated by the United Nations, is Friday.

Heil will be in Ottawa on Thursday to promote an interactive art installation supporting girls' education globally.

The 30-year-old from Spruce Grove, Alta., became an ambassador of the Because I am a Girl program after a 2008 trip to Burkina Faso.

Heil met with girls who were the first in their community to go to school. She heard their dreams of becoming doctors and lawyers and even president of the country.

"For me, when I was nine years old, I had the dream to be an Olympian," Heil said Wednesday from her home in Montreal. "As as a Canadian, I received endless opportunity to make that a reality.

"They told me they wanted to be citizens of tomorrow. It made me want to try and help create some opportunity for them and for other girls."

Heil's efforts have helped fund 3,000 school scholarships for girls in Burkina Faso, as well as schools, playgrounds and water facilities there and in other countries. …

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