For Wini Gentholts, fundraising is a family affair - one that may lead to a future career. The high school senior has been raising money for, and participating in, Jimmie Heuga's Snow Express for MS at Big Sky for half of her 18 years. After a summer internship at The Heuga Center, the beneficiary of the Snow Express, she is now considering turning her talent for philanthropy into a full time career.
The Snow Express for MS is a national series of charity ski racers. At the Snow Express, teams of three compete in a unique day of racing - challenging the clock, the mountain and other racers. A unique two-race format has participants going head-to-head in a dual giant slalom, and then competing against time and terrain in a Mountain Challenge. Prizes are awarded based on a combination of on-snow results and successful fundraising efforts. Proceeds from the Snow Express go to The Heuga Center, a nonprofit organization that conducts medical / wellness programs for people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Wini's first experience with the Snow Express was at the age of nine when she competed as part of her father, David Gentholts, team. Displaying a characteristicly independent streak, the following year she broke from her father's team and formed her own. David eventually went on to serve as the local event director for the Snow Express, and Wini kept raising money and competing on her own.
She cites a family connection with MS as the initial reason she became involved with the Snow Express. "But once I saw how much fun it was I just fell in love with doing it," she explains.
Last year her dedication paid off and Wini's team, Chalet Sports, took first place at the event. For their efforts, Wini and her teammates Jennifer Fraser and Gretchen Lutes won an expense-paid trip to Vail, Colorado that April for the Vail International Finals competition - four days of skiing and celebration.
It was while she was in Vail for the Finals that Wini got the idea to serve as a summer intern for The Heuga Center, located near Vail in Edwards, Colo. She made a preliminary plan with the Center's staff before the Finals event was over, and finalized the details over the next two months. After school let out for the summer, she packed her things and returned to Colorado to begin her internship.
At The Heuga Center, Wini served as the Office Coordinator and was responsible for answering telephones, managing correspondence and generally helping out. But it was the direct contact with the people with MS that had the greatest impact on her.
Wini was already considering a career in the nonprofit sector prior to her internship, so her time at The Heuga Center was a chance to explore that more. "It was an amazing experience. It gave me the opportunity to see the inner workings of a nonprofit," says Wini. "It allowed me to see what I want to do in the future."
When the Snow Express returns to Big Sky on Saturday and Sunday, February 23 and 24, 2002, Wini will be there yet again.
Now in its 17th year, the Snow Express is the largest source of funding for The Heuga Center, raising approximately $1 million annually. A portion of the proceeds from each event is used to help people in the local community through the Center's medical, research and scholarship programs.
For more information about the Snow Express for MS or The Heuga Center, please call 1-888-DO-IT-4-MS, or visit http://www.heuga.org.
27 Main Street, Suite 303 l Edwards,
1-888-DO-IT-4-MS l (970) 926-1290 l Fax: (970) 926-1295
firstname.lastname@example.org l http://www.heuga.org