Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Charitable event to test skiersí mettle

24 Hours of Sun Valley set for March

Express Staff Writer

The inaugural 24 Hours of Sun Valley event will bring relay teams of skiers, telemark skiers and snowboarders to Dollar Mountain next month to race around the clock and raise money for a rare disease.

The event, organized by the Idaho-based nonprofit 24 Hours for Hank foundation, raises money to help find a cure for cystinosis, a metabolic disease that affects fewer than 500 people in the United States and an estimated 2,000 worldwide. The genetic disease can cause severe tissue and organ damage and can result in kidney failure and neurological damage.

The foundation was named for a northern Idaho boy, Hank Sturgis, who is suffering from the disease.

Hank's friends and family organized the first 24-hour ski relay in Sandpoint, where it has been held for the past three years. This year, they expanded it to Sun Valley, where the Sturgis family once lived.

"Sun Valley is known for its world-class skiing and caring community, and we have very fond memories of our years there," Tricia Sturgis, Hank's mother, said in a news release. "It was a natural fit when we explored the idea of expanding the event."

The race begins Friday, March 23. Participants who have raised pledges will see how many runs they can ski or ride in 24 hours.  Two intermediate runs will be used for the event.

Hank's father, Brian Sturgis, said the event draws people of all ages and all experience levels.

"It's a fun event," he told the Idaho Mountain Express, adding, "[some] people take it very seriously and get competitive about it."

Organizers will keep the runs split off so more experienced skiers and riders are on a different run than slower participants.

The entry fee is $250 per person and includes a two-day lift ticket, T-shirt, participation medal, dinner and midnight meal, equipment support, sleeping bag accommodations in Dollar Lodge and one ticket to the auction and awards party on March 24 at Sun Valley Inn's Limelight Room.

Tickets for the auction and dinner are available for $100.

Volunteers also are being sought for the event.

Brian Sturgis declined to say how much they hope to raise, but said the foundation has raised $400,000 in its four years of existence, all of which, he said, goes to research.

"Hopefully, everything goes well and we can turn this into an annual event," he said.

For more information or to register, log on to or call (208) 610-2131.

Rebecca Meany:

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