Coming Together for Student Safety on the Slopes

Kerry Tepedino is confident in the compassionate community of Rye Moms. 

Ski helmets were donated to Kerry Tepedino's class.
Published March 7, 2024 6:55 PM
2 min read

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By Shannon Haines

Just a few weeks before Rye resident Kerry Tepedino’s students at St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria, Queens, were about to leave for the school’s annual senior ski trip, she heard about a tragedy at a Colorado ski resort. A young skier had collided with a tree and died. 

How many of the kids from her school would be wearing protective helmets on their weekend to the Villa Roma Resort in the Catskill Mountains? It turned out that none of them planned to. Most of them didn’t even have helmets. 

Tepedino, a mother of four and a social-emotional school counselor at the school, understood the magnitude of this trip for her students, who often battle anxiety and depression and shoulder substantial after-school responsibilities. Many work late into the night to help pay for their education, which they typically acquire from the schools offering the most financial aid.

Intent on preserving the meaning of her students’ ski trip while also ensuring their safety, Tepedino began researching helmet rentals. She found that the Catskills’ ski resorts do not rent out helmets, so she reached out to local ski shops, hoping to rent helmets on behalf of her students.

Pedigree Ski Shop, a family-run business in White Plains, told Tepedino they did not typically rent out helmets, but promised to brainstorm some ideas. Uncertain if she would receive a call back, Tepedino posted on the Rye Moms Facebook group. 

She called on its community to clean out their closets and consider donating an old helmet or two to her students. Within hours, by the time Tepedino had returned home from Queens, a helmet had been placed on her doorstep.

After the catalyst of the first helmet, the community rallied to provide additional ski equipment for Tepedino’s students. “It really was very moving,” Tepedino said. “People called and said, ‘Do they need goggles? Do they need ski jackets?’ They really went the extra mile.”

Tom Fuerst, the owner of Pedigree, soon returned Tepedino’s call and offered to donate as many new helmets as her students required, even contributing 13 extra helmets to account for any sizing discrepancies. Tepedino was touched by the notion that strangers would make such a kind gift to students from another community. “My kids all have this joke,” she said. “We do this hashtag: #gp, which means good people… Pedigree is #gp.” 

Tepedino ultimately received 62 helmets from Pedigree and 34 from Rye Moms. Despite her infrequent presence on Facebook, Tepedino is unwaveringly confident in the compassionate community of Rye Moms. 

“I feel like they always do rise to the occasion,” she said. “I think that they are a very generous and giving community.” 

But Tepedino also praised the local ski shop as “the nicest, kindest family” and urged Rye to support #gp establishment.

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