Storming the stars | AspenTimes.com

Storming the stars

May Selby

Event sponsor Jeff Busic of Chaco Sandals, Chris Klug, Bob Wade of The Ute Mountaineer and Brian Scranton of Chaco Sandals.

In the midst of last Saturday evening’s snowfall, 229 racers strapped on headlamps, pinned race bibs to their winter clothes and charged to the top of Aspen Mountain on skis, snowshoes and Flight Boots.The third annual Storm the Stars uphill drew more participants than anticipated – especially good news for an event associated with a good cause. Though 2006 marked the third annual event, this was the first time it was also a fundraiser. Proceeds from the race this year, and going forward, will benefit the American Transplant Foundation and the Chris Klug Foundation.

An incredibly touching and well-supported event, Storm the Stars truly served as a crescendo of community spirit. While mostly local athletes participated in the race, businesses from the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond stepped up as event sponsors, assisting racers’ fundraising efforts with cash donations, providing gift bag items, donating raffle prizes and more.It was a serene scene as snowflakes fell throughout the duration of the race. The course was lit by the full moon, racers’ headlamps and the occasional glow sticks staked along the slopes.

Many racers opted to demo the new Flight Boot from Kahtoola Snow Travel Systems. According to company owner and founder, Danny Giovale, “there is so much uphill activity in Aspen, this event was the perfect place to introduce” their new product. Bill Perkins of Redfeather Snowshoes designed the boot to be worn over one’s shoe of choice – be it a hiking boot or running shoe. You slip your shoe into the neoprene Flight Boot, zip up the back and cinch the straps in the front. It’s completely waterproof with metal teeth below the ball of the foot for traction and can be worn independently or affixed to a snowshoe.Bernie Boettcher of Silt won the race for the third consecutive time on snowshoes, pulling into the finish at 49:00. Becca Blay took first for women, clocking in at 1:01.

Wendle Whiting rode 100 miles in the gondola all day as opposed to storming the stars that night.From 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., he never left the gondola, raising $1,115 for the twin causes. “There’s no way I would have made it up the hill,” he explained. Making his contribution to fundraising by riding in the gondola wasn’t just an alternative solution, “it was the only solution.”

This year’s Storm the Stars launched the Summit for Life event series. Designed with the mission to raise awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation, Summit for Life events help spread the message that becoming an organ donor is important and that transplant recipients and living donors can lead active, healthy lives. (Several Storm the Stars participants, including Chris Klug, were transplant recipients.)Pete Barnes of Carbondale immediately was drawn to the event and raising money for it. “I did an MS 150 bike race from Denver to Colorado Springs several years ago that was a fundraiser,” he explained. He sent an e-mail soliciting support to friends and family members. “Of all the e-mails I sent, the only person among my friends to make a donation was Chris – and that was when he was busy on the road going for his Olympic medal. That especially inspired me to get donations and raise more than required for this event.”The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.

Thanks to the incredibly charitable donations this year, approximately $75,000 was raised. American Transplant Foundation executive director Heidi Heltzel announced $10,000 was pledged in seed money for the 2007 event.Several staggering facts she shared may come as a surprise. Nearly 93,000 people are waiting for a life-saving donation and one donor can provide organs to save eight peoples’ lives and can provide tissues to increase the well-being of up to 100 recipients. Signing up to become a donor is as easy as registering at ColoradoDonorRegistry.org and telling your family your wishes.For more information about the organizations affiliated with Storm the Stars, visit AmericanTransplantFoundation.org or ChrisKlugFoundation.org.

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