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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Keystone Resort hosts 5th annual Hike MS fundraiser
Jessica Smith / email@example.com | Summit Daily News
Some people will show up with crazy costumes. Others will have names in tribute pinned to their backs. Still others will come in their normal hiking gear, but with perhaps bigger smiles than usual. Whether decked out in tutus or mountain gear, participants of the Hike MS event will be walking together to support their cause.
Hike MS is returning to Summit County for its fifth year, moving from Copper Mountain Resort to Keystone Resort. Last year, the event raised around $100,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and this year organizers are hoping to bring in $120,000.
OUT ENJOYING NATURE
Hike MS is an event organized by the Colorado-Wyoming chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. While events like Bike MS and Walk MS take place in chapters across the country, Hike MS is unique to Colorado, said chapter president Carrie Nolan. The idea came from identifying an activity prevalent in and specific to Colorado, she said. It’s also an alternative to those don’t attend the other events.
“It gives an option for people who may not feel physically enough challenged with walk and don’t want to be as physically challenged with bike,” she said.
“Any time when we can combine an on-mountain activity with a great community cause, it’s certainly something we’re passionate and excited for,” said Laura Parquette, senior communications manager at Keystone Resort.
Hikers have the option of taking on a 2-mile, 6-mile or 10-mile hike round-trip. The short hike loops at the bottom of the mountain on the Timberline Trail, then travels along the top on the Dercum Hiking Trail. The middle, blue route utilizes Jackstraw Road and the longest route follows both Jackstraw and Dercum Hiking Trail.
Rest stations will be placed periodically along each route, with volunteers offering water, snacks, encouragement and medical support if needed.
“Any recreational hiker can feel comfortable coming out,” Nolan said. “There are a lot of families that come, a lot of kids are there, some of them first-time hiking, so they also know they have that kind of support system.”
While some participants are local, many come from out of county and even out of state to take part in the Hike MS event, Nolan said.
“Because who doesn’t want to go up to the Colorado mountains, right? Who doesn’t want to come to Summit County and enjoy the summer?”
She could think of two families off the top of her head that come in every year, one from New Jersey and one from Texas, to support their family members with multiple sclerosis who live in the area.
WORKING FOR A CURE
Participants can sign up individually or in teams. After the registration fee, each hiker is required to raise at least $50, which can either be a personal contribution or come from fundraising efforts.
All of the money raised from the event goes to the National MS Society, which funnels it into local programs as well as funding medical research nationally and abroad. The majority of these research projects are focused on at least one of three main objectives — stopping progression of the disease, restoring function that’s been lost and finding a permanent cure.
Though the Hike MS event takes place this weekend, the fundraising continues through Sept. 30. This means that people can donate to teams and individuals even after the event is finished. Not only does this extend the amount of time for fundraising efforts, but it gives potential donors more of a chance to contribute, said Nolan. Plus, people who may not have heard of the event earlier can still participate and help out.
“It’s just that we’re all so busy and we get so many emails, and people’s lack of responding isn’t always a sign that they’re not interested,” she said. Sometimes, attending the event inspires people to renew their fundraising efforts.
“You feel the energy of this community, you know where your money’s going, and all of those things are (so) inspiring that you want to share with your friends and family and give them another opportunity to give,” she said. “We may raise as much as 20 percent for an event after the event is over.”
A SENSE OF COMMUNITY
In addition to enjoying Summit County in the summer while simultaneously raising money for an important cause, participants can connect with each other. People will recognize each other from years past, or introduce themselves to strangers. In fact, “stranger” isn’t a term Nolan would apply to anyone at the event at all.
“We’re not strangers, because if we come under this umbrella, we’re under this banner of ‘we’re hikers for MS,’ or ‘hikers against MS,’ then we are one community and nobody’s a stranger,” she said.
Along with hiking, the event will include a continental breakfast and lunch, and a happy hour Friday during participant check-in and registration.
Anyone can sign up to participate, up to and including the day of the event. It’s not rare for people walking by to ask about the event and decide last-minute to join, Nolan said. And the way she and the other participants view it, the more the merrier.
“Come one and all,” she said. “This is a real extended family. … It’s a catalyst to bring people closer together and to know they have a support system around them. These events are more than just the event, they’re more than just fundraisers; they’re really a connector and a connection.”