In June, well-known V-103 radio personality and media mogul Frank Ski and his wife, Tanya Rodriguez, took six students from the metro Atlanta area on an 8-day, all-expense-paid trip to Rome, Italy, for the experience of a lifetime. The teens, who ranged in age from 13 to 15, were selected for the exciting, educational art-based tour by winning the Frank Ski Kids Foundation International Art Excursion, during which they submitted landscape drawings and participated in an impromptu drawing competition. Once in the Eternal City, the students visited everything from St. Peter’s Basilica to the Sistine Chapel, and they clearly were inspired by their magnificent surroundings—just like Frank and Tanya were inspired by them.
“Watching the kids and seeing the talent that they have was incredible,” recalls Tanya, president of the Frank Ski Kids Foundation. “You could see how they felt being in Rome, and when they took out their sketch pads and started to draw, their interpretations of what they were seeing was amazing. I found myself watching them as much as the art around us. It was just so rewarding.”
Being able to give children those kinds of captivating, life-changing moments is what the Frank Ski Kids Foundation Inc. is all about. Founded in 2000, the organization introduces low-income and underserved youth to the possibilities of their own futures through exposure to hands-on experiences in science, technology, athletics and the arts. Over the last 10 years, Frank, who serves as chairman, and Tanya have worked tirelessly to raise funds to accomplish such goals as sending deserving children to Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, taking 11 children to the Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands to study environmental conservation and bringing 10 children on an exploration trip to the Amazon to learn about ecology. They also raise money to award college scholarships to local teens each year and host the annual Youth Bowl, known as the Super Bowl of Atlanta’s inner-city football programs, in which four of the best youth football teams in the area compete to win more than $20,000 in cash and prizes.
The underlying vision that drives the Skis to provide such extraordinary experiences and assistance is to broaden participating children’s lives by promoting optimal growth, self-expression, ingenuity, achievement and learning vital to their ambitions. “When you’re exposed to things like travel, art and science at a young age, it impacts your life,” Tanya observes. “Everything is broadened after that, and you realize that the possibilities are endless.”
The couple actually began their quest when they lived in Baltimore, where Frank worked in radio for 16 years. During that time, they personally sponsored local athletic teams at recreation centers throughout the city. When they relocated to Atlanta, they expanded their efforts and officially established the Frank Ski Kids Foundation. Today, all of the foundation’s opportunities are made possible by sponsorships from local companies, as well as through contributions by individuals. With continued support, the couple hopes to widen the organization’s scope once again, offering performing arts programs. What means the most to Frank and Tanya, though, is that fact that the foundation’s programs are making a noticeable difference in children’s lives. Tanya concludes, “We have had a hand in transforming children’s lives. It’s amazing. We’ve made the possibilities tangible to these children, and we are helping them live life to the fullest.”
For more information, visit www.frankskikids.org.