Squaw Valley, Calif., Mar. 8 2004 -- Over thirty teams of three took to the slopes of Squaw Valley USA for some fun and fundraising during the 19th annual Snow Express for MS. The two-day event raised a record breaking $116,000 to benefit the Jimmie Heuga Center with local teams winning the overall and individual events.
The Heuga Express event tour includes 14 different resorts nationwide. The Squaw Valley stop is hailed as one of North America's largest on-snow charity events. The donations given during this year's event indicate that the Squaw Valley Snow Express is on track to be number one again, with four teams from North Lake Tahoe and several other teams from the Bay Area and Reno contributing to the total funds raised.
The feel-good weekend of fun combined racing skill with extensive fundraising efforts. In order to participate, teams were required to gather a group of three and raise a minimum of $1,000 for the Jimmy Heuga Center. Teams then came to Squaw Valley to compete in a dual slalom race and an all-mountain "poker run" competition. In the poker run, teams were given clues and had to race to pick up playing cards at several different stations around the resort. Winning teams were judged on overall time, the number of stations at which stopped, points earned in special team tricks and stunts performed along the way and finally the best poker hand.
This year's winner of the Mountain Challenge was "Team Zuzi" from Squaw Valley Ski Corp team consisting of T.J. Kelly, Joshua Hitchcock, and Darian Boyle, which raised $5,700 for The Heuga Center. In the dual slalom race, Team Zuzi's Darian Boyle was the fastest woman, TJ Kelly was the fastest male and Jonathon Hurt was the fastest alternative competitor on his tele skis.
This year's first place team overall, winning for the fourth year in a row, was "Team Fermented" from Truckee, comprised of Jonathon Hurt, K.C. Denham, and Marc Baldwin. They stepped up to the fundraising plate by raising over $28,000 for the Center with the second and third place teams each contributing over $15,000 each. Second place went to Team Ski Off & Ong comprised of Holly Ong, Lynn Friday and Stephen Suleski. The third place team was Team Chiron/BioTuck with competitors Carolyn Lee, David Madden and Tom McKinney.
Every dollar raised was counted as a point and additional "bonus points" were earned in the on-mountain competitions. Prizes were awarded in two categories - teams that exceed the fundraising minimum and the top five event winners. The Fermented team will proudly represent Squaw Valley at the International Snow Express Finals in Vail, Colorado, in April.
The money raised at the Snow Express benefits the Heuga Center and helps provide scholarships for those with MS in Northern California and Northern Nevada to attend the Heuga Center's programs. "This money does go to help people with MS," explained Terri Goodman of the Heuga Center. "The programs help affect changes in peoples lives. MS can be a very challenging disease to live with and this money offers people the opportunity to learn that the disease is just a part of their lives, not their entire lives. We could not do this without the help of all these generous people."
Due to the charitable fundraising efforts and the amount of money raised at the Squaw Valley event over the last several years, the Heuga Center announced plans to host a satellite medical program in the Reno/Truckee area in 2005.
Teams interested in registering for next winter's event scheduled for early March 2005 should visit www.heuga.org.