Monaco Marathoners |

Monaco Marathoners

May Eynon

On the heels of a successful fund-raising effort with the Lausanne Marathon last fall, Challenge Aspen chose the Monaco Marathon on Nov. 14 as its next running event.

Coordinated by Challenge Aspen Executive Director Mardell Burkholder, the weeklong trip to Europe is a way for locals to get acquainted with the organization, earn money for their programs and take part in an international marathon. Participants run and raise money on behalf of the local nonprofit, which provides recreational and cultural experiences for people with mental or physical disabilities. Co-founded by Houston Cowan and Amanda Boxtel, Challenge Aspen has been creating “possibilities for people with disabilities” since 1995. Their programs are designed to build confidence and self-esteem for disabled individuals through successfully learning new skills or participating in new activities.

To take part in the Monaco trip (which is either the 26.2-mile marathon distance or a 10K), runners are required to solicit $4,500 each. In exchange for their hard work preparing for the race and collecting money for Challenge Aspen, runners receive a host of benefits: a 20-week comprehensive training program provided by “1st Marathon,” weekly team training sessions, fund-raising clinics, race-entry fee, round-trip airfare to Europe, six nights deluxe accommodations at the Monte Carlo Grand Hotel, a welcome reception and team parties.

Aspen Club co-workers Kathy Fry and Anna Lexeus Smith signed up for the Challenge Aspen challenge this year and took an interesting route to meet their fund-raising budgets. Instead of the traditional letter-writing approach, they opted to host parties open to the public, asking for a minimum donation each time. “Since we work together at the Aspen Club and have an incredible deck, we decided it would be more fun to do our fund raising together and invite our friends and the entire community to apres-work parties!” explained Fry. The general manager of the club supported the idea, offered the space and even arranged for kegs through the club’s distributor.

The first fund-raising soiree took place Thursday, May 20, and attracted a number of friends and co-workers. Fry and Lexeus Smith reported an impressive $584 in donations in only a few hours. Aspen Club chef Santiago Rapela provided pizza, crudites, chips and salsa, and trays of chocolates and cookies.

Aspen Club membership services manager Nikki Sebenaler not only attended the first party, but announced that she, too, will go to Monaco with her co-workers ” as a spectator. “Those girls are two of my best friends,” she said. “I want to support them as much as I can.”

Among the guests on the deck was Sam Ferguson, a Challenge Aspen adaptive skiing instructor. He came both as a friend to Fry and Lexeus Smith and as a representative of the nonprofit. “Challenge Aspen has helped make me who I am today. Back when my bike accident left me paralyzed from the waist down, I was wondering what direction to take.”

Through Boxtel, Ferguson was coaxed into giving disabled skiing a try and has gone on to become one of the best. “I learned through them that anything is possible,” he stated. An accomplished mono-skier, Ferguson is well-known for his recent participation in the Winter X Games, his appearance in a Warren Miller film and for being listed among Aspen Magazine’s people of the year in 2003.

“We are so very thankful to everyone who came and made donations,” added Lexeus Smith. Together, she and Fry now have less than $500 to raise by June 10 (and another $8,000 before the final September deadline). Next on the calendar for the Aspen Club runners is a party on Tuesday, June 8, from 6-8 p.m. on the deck to which one and all are invited.

For more information on the race, contact Challenge Aspen executive director Mardell Burkholder at 923-0578, ext. 16, or To support Kathy or Anna or for information on their parties, contact them at the Aspen Club at 925.8900 or

To contact May to send info, insight or invites, e-mail:

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