Heli-skiing legend Mike Wiegele donates $50,000 to TRU tourism students | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Heli-skiing legend Mike Wiegele donates $50,000 to TRU tourism students

Thompson Rivers University dean of Adventure Studies, Culinary Arts and Tourism Management Douglas Booth (left) and Mike Wiegele are pictured in this undated photo submitted by TRU.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Thompson River University

A Blue River businessman has donated $50,000 to fund 14 awards for Thompson Rivers University students studying to work in the tourism industry.

Mike Wiegele, who runs Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing in Blue River, is awarding the money to students from the Simpcw First Nation and the North Thompson area. Students in the Faculty of Adventure, Culinary Arts and Tourism will be eligible.

“I believe the future of the North Thompson Valley is tourism,” Wiegele says in a media release. “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.”

The 50th anniversary of Thompson Rivers University coincides with the 50th anniversary of Wiegele’s heli-skiing business. Weigele says the company now employs 240 people with good-paying jobs, and it’s noted that the future of tourism is important in the region affected by the downturn in the forestry industry.

Two $8,000 scholarships will be awarded to Simpcw students, while four entrance awards and $2,000 scholarships will be awarded to students from the North Thompson. The donation will also be used to fund two scholarships for students in the Adventure Studies program and will offer two leadership awards to students in the same program. In addition to the awards and scholarships, the donation will help to pay for some avalanche training equipment.

“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,” Wiegele says in the release. “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.”

The donation contributes to Thompson Rivers University's Limitless Campaign which aims to raise $50 million to mark the university’s 50th anniversary, which has raised $43 million so far.

“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," dean of Adventure Studies, Culinary Arts and Tourism Management Douglas Booth says in the release.

“Call Me Crazy” a film about Wiegele’s life will premiere at the Kamloops Film Festival on March 6 at the Paramount Theatre.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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