DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver man has spent the last 20 years, and thousands of dollars, getting used ski gear to places and people desperately in need.
Every couple of years or so, some of the local ski areas switch out their winter apparel, worn by their workers and volunteers, for newer gear. But what happens to the used, high-quality gear? Some of it ends up halfway across the world.
Hungarian refugee now helping others
“I felt like I needed to share my good fortune with other people who are not as fortunate as I am,” Gene Megyesy said. He’s a Denver-based lawyer and author, who’s using his lived experience to help those in need.
“We escaped from Hungary in 1956 after the revolution against communism, and I came to the states in 1959 with my family,” Megyesy explained.
For the most part, Hungary looks a lot different now than it did in 1956. But the impact of his former home is why Megyesy has worked with several local ski areas – like Aspen, Copper Mountain and Winter Park – to donate their used uniforms to his home country, and more recently, Turkey and Ukraine.
“More than 20 years ago, I represented Aspen Ski Company and I found out the uniforms that the employees were using, when they changed the uniform every two or three years, they didn’t know what to do with them,” Megyesy said.
High-quality ski gear helps those in need
High-quality coats, vests and pants, with familiar, local symbols, now find new homes halfway across the world, helping underprivileged students learning to ski, rescue teams in the region and refugees.
“I saw other people were in the same position I was in at one time. I was in a refugee camp at one time,” Megyesy explained, adding: “When I see people around the world who are less fortunate than I am, then I think it’s only fair and good for me to help those people. Because I know what I went through and my family went through.”
But shipping these products can be pricey.
“Sometimes I pay for it, other times I go to people and ask them for a donation,” Megyesy said.
In fact, just last week, Megyesy worked alongside other local organizations to send shipments to the region. For perspective, he told me he sent two 40-foot containers last week – with the help of Denver-based Aspect Management – with each one costing $10,000.
He said he makes arrangements to ship them as often as ski companies change their gear. That can be every couple of years. This time around, he wanted to help countries beyond just Hungary. He said many helping hands make this all possible.