The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


The Student News Site of Xavier College Preparatory


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Students form Forest Highlands Youth Board and transform lives of disabled athletes

Courtesy of Matthew London
Matthew London and Lexi Zastrow pose as they host last year’s Top Gun Shootout. They both gave speeches, ran the microphones and called out closest-shots-to-the-pin during the event.

In 2021, the Forest Highland Youth Board was created by Xavier College Preparatory students, Lexi and Ivy Zastrow, and Brophy College Preparatory student, Matthew London, along with several other teens in the Flagstaff and Phoenix areas. The members of this youth board participate in hands-on volunteer and service work while learning leadership skills and qualities.

In order to start this youth board, these students had to present their idea, along with a mission, to the existing adult board in Forest Highlands.

“Our goal was to create a program where members could see how their volunteer work helped those in need,” said Ivy Zastrow.

The members of the board volunteer and raise money for High Country Adaptive Sports, which used to be known as NAASA. High Country Adaptive Sports is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2015 with the intent to help individuals with disabilities participate in year-round outdoor recreational activities.

Volunteering with High Country Adaptive Sports is a large part of being on the Forest Highlands Youth Board; however, the requirements are simple.

“An interest in helping adaptive athletes and an interest in doing volunteer and leadership work are all that is required,” said London.

Members of the youth board also attend training sessions with Adaptive Sports, where they are taught how to kayak, mountain bike and ski with people who are disabled.

Another large part of being on the youth board is the annual Top Gun Shootout. The event is held during the summer and it is a “closest to the pin” golf competition, complete with music, a slide show, adaptive athlete speakers, dinner and an open bar. Board members worked as servers, announcers, and in other jobs to help run the event.

Creating and running the event was an intricate process that included meetings where members collaborated on donation strategies and event planning. 

“We had to get cooperation with Forest Highlands leadership including recreation, the golf department, food and beverage, and communications. It took about nine months to plan and we got sponsors to purchase full tables or individual tickets,” said London.

Overall, the board members were able to raise over $60,000 for Adaptive Sports during this spectacular event, and over 200 people attended.

“The most rewarding part of raising the money was seeing how our work impacted them. The event took only one day of our summer and it will impact someone’s life forever,” said Lexi Zastrow.

The money raised for High Country Adaptive Sports allows them to pay staff members and fund new equipment, which greatly impacts disabled athletes.

The annual Top Gun Shootout will be held this year on June 16. The board is planning and revising the event this year in order to raise more money and to create a better Shootout.

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