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24 Hours of Aspen steps up fund raising for nonprofits

Jeremy Heiman

If you have to race down Aspen Mountain for 24 hours straight, you might as well do it for a good cause or two.

This weekend’s 24 Hours of Aspen endurance race will benefit two local charities, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and Challenge Aspen. Major fund-raising events for this year’s 24 Hours include a raffle for a car, a gala dinner and an auction. Oh, and there will be a Strudel-thon.

A donor can become a patron of the event with a donation of $1,500, $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 to the 24 Hours of Aspen Foundation.

“There are varying levels of goodies that you get with those levels,” said Jacqueline Hutton, 24 Hours event chairman. Upper-level donations yield a table at the banquet and a place at the Sundeck for the Ajax on Top Race Night Party.

All patrons can attend the patron party Friday evening at Jimmy’s, An American Restaurant and Bar, on Mill Street. Patrons may also occupy VIP suites over Ajax Tavern to watch the closing ceremonies.

“The patrons really are the backbone of this charity,” Hutton said.

The top name sponsor, Audi of America, has donated the car that will be raffled off. The 2001 Audi TT is on display at the Gondola Plaza at Hunter Street and Durant Avenue.

“I think it’s very generous of Audi,” said Maureen Poschman of Promo, Inc., who is helping the charities with arrangements.

Raffle tickets for the car are being sold for $100 and are available at a tent at the gondola plaza, along with 24 Hours hats and T-shirts. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold.

All proceeds will be divided between the two nonprofits. The purchase of raffle tickets is tax deductible because the entire sum collected goes to nonprofit organizations.

“The inspiration to spend $100 is that your chances are greatly improved by the limited number of tickets,” Hutton said. The winner of the car will be announced at the gondola plaza on Monday after the finish of the race, Poschman said.

Saturday evening’s dinner will be the first event held in the newly renovated ballroom at the St. Regis. The banquet is sold out at this point, except to those buying patron packages, Hutton said.

Those at the banquet will be entertained by Burt Bacharach and other celebrity performers yet to be announced.

At Friday’s patron party, a Calcutta auction will be held. Each of the 10 international teams in the 24 Hours race will be auctioned off to the highest bidders.

After the race, 50 percent of the proceeds from the auction will go to the two nonprofits. The other 50 percent is divided among the top bidders on the teams placing first, second and third, said Jimmy Yeager of Jimmy’s. Why is it called a “Calcutta”?

“I haven’t got the faintest idea,” Yeager said.

A new wrinkle in this year’s 24 Hours is the Strudel-thon, Poschman said. During last year’s 24 Hours, the Silver Queen Gondola was not open to the public. But this year, members of the public can ride the gondola from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., to reach the strudel tent at the top of Aspen Mountain.

The charge for the Strudel-thon is $10 for adults and $5 for children. That buys a gondola ride, hot chocolate and strudel from Gwyn’s. All the money goes to the two nonprofits.

Elk Mountain Motors of Glenwood Springs, the local Audi dealer, is again sponsoring the 24 Hours of Aspen for children. That event will be held on the Little Nell run.

Kids who participate in the 24 hours must round up sponsors who pledge money for each run the child skis. All proceeds go to Challenge Aspen and the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club.

The ski and snowboard club provides teaching and coaching for young skiers and riders and sponsors race teams for skiers and snowboarders at all levels. Challenge Aspen is an organization that provides athletic lessons, training and equipment for physically and mentally challenged adults and children.

The two nonprofits were selected by the 24 Hours of Aspen board of directors. The Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club has been a beneficiary of the event for a few years, but Challenge Aspen is new this year, Hutton said.

Other major sponsors of this year’s 24 Hours are Compaq, Worldcom and Cafe de Colombia.


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