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Accepting a Vertical Challenge

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Area residents Ski for a Cure

March 27, 2002

The 2002 Ski For the Cure was smoothly executed. Friday night, March 1st, event participants and supporters gathered for the second annual “Ski For the Cure” kick off party at DeLuna’s restaurant. The place was packed. Skiers, boarders, cross country skiers and snowshoers signed up at the pre-registration table for the very reasonable fee of $20 (if you had a Schweitzer ski pass). Any donations or sponsorship monies were also collected. A delicious dinner special was offered by DeLuna’s, or you could have enjoyed liquid refreshments offered by Pend Oreille Winery. Raffle tickets were available to win valuable gifts ranging from massages to girt baskets to a wake board. The party was still going strong when I left at 10.

    The next morning, race day, was a beautiful North Idaho sunny winter day. An arch of pink and purple balloons marked the starting point. Participants checked in the Caribou room where there was a great deal of informational material and educational displays on breast cancer awareness and prevention. Signing up was quick and painless thanks to all the volunteers on hand. As I sat at the starting line listening to the Ski Patrol provide the required “be careful and courteous” overview, I thought, “No worries. I’m just here to have fun” And fun it was.

    We all skated and trudged over to the quad to work our way to Stella. Although a typical sunny Saturday brings guaranteed long lines, Ski For the Cure participants marked with pink scarves and pink cardboard tags had  a lift line all to themselves. Volunteers from Schweitzer’s “PrimeTimers” club, a group of fun-loving skiers over the ripe old age of 55, punched our cards as we zoomed through. I began to find myself wanting to make as many runs as possible. And even with two breaks for socializing, in four hours my friends and I found ourselves with 16 runs to our name. The most runs recorded, twenty-one, were made by those skiing novices, (yeah right) Skip and Nancy Pucci.

    At 2:00 pm the race ended and participants were asked to make their way inside and hand in their cards. At 2:30 pm, a cancer survivor ski run was made and a group photo was organized. It was moving and humbling to see people who had dedicated their race cards to friends and family who were lost to cancer. As I rode the lift up, seeing 156 people wearing something pink as they shot down the slope made me feel we were collectively punching back against this debilitating disease.

    When I recently had lunch with several of the core organizers, Heather Gibson, Cynthia Dalsing, Judy Thompson, Anne Tyree and Brenda Cooper it was reported that donations and sponsorship monies were just shy of $20,000. Of these funds, fully 75% after expenses stay in the five Northern Idaho counties to subsidize the cost of mammograms and other screening processes. Any organization providing heath services that advance the research, education, screening or treatment of breast cancer are eligible to apply for the grant money. In Sandpoint, the Panhandle Health District is the principal supplier of low-cost, no-cost screenings, using a voucher system, but more health providers need to consider applying.

    The remaining 25% of the funds goes back to the national organization, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to assist in the support of events and education in a national scale. Both Heather Gibson and Sharon Bezckney sit on the local Komen Board, which facilitates the distribution of funds. A person serves for either a two- or three- year term, and openings are coming up on the board, which meets monthly in Coeur d’Alene. The region also has a national rep, Kay Anderson, who is assigned as a liaison.

    Needles to say, Anderson was extremely impressed with Sandpoint’s Ski For the Cure and took time to write a congratulatory letter expressing her appreciation. “The Komen Foundation has been built on a promise from one sister to another. That promise is to eradicate breast cancer as a life threatening disease by advancing research, screenings and treatment. This commitment made by Nancy Brinkor to Susan G. Komen marked the beginning of  The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's mission.

    At the end of the day there was an awards ceremony. A very moving presentation was made by John Pucci, head of the Ski Patrol. The Ski Patrol donated approximately $1700, which consisted of collections (fill the ski boot) received all over the mountain, and private contributions of Ski Patrol funds.

    The whole day was a cumulative impressive showing of the depth and love that Sandpoint possesses. Kudos went to Schweitzer’s Mary Quinn, special events coordinator, for the excellent organization that helped to keep things moving.

    Anyone wishing to help in the organization of next year’s event, again anticipated for March, should contact Heather Gibson or Cynthia Dalsing. Donations are still being accepted and can be mailed to Komen Ski For the Cure, 206 N. Fourth Ave., Ste. #C, Sandpoint, Idaho, 83864. Anyone interested in becoming involved in the process to establish a Cancer Center in Sandpoint can contact Ann Tyree at [email protected] This visionary process will beginning with regular routine visits by Dr. Alan Grosset, an oncologist from the North Idaho Cancer Center in Coeur d'Alene. The next fundraiser for the Cancer Center will be held in June at the Panida Theater. The next organizational meeting for 2003 Ski For the Cure will be held at DeLuna’s at noon on April 10th. It was truly a wonderful experience to participate in a vertical challenge and feel like it’s possible to make a small contribution in a very complex, tedious battle against cancer.



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Carol Curtis

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