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CARRABASSETT VALLEY -- Sugarloaf is a great ski mountain, and many people every year enjoy it just for that, but Sugarloaf has another side. The mountain has a long history of hosting charity events ranging from small silent auctions to huge professionally orchestrated events. Almost every weekend in the winter and quite a few times during the summer different causes are working to raise money to help the people of Maine.
This March 8 and 9 the Jimmy Heuga Snow Express is rolling into town for the 17th year. Jimmy Heuga is an ex-Olympian who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was in the prime of his ski career and only 26 years old. He lives in Colorado and is the originator of the Heuga Center, which runs a CAN DO program for people living with the disease.
This on-snow charity event is the largest in the US and Sugarloaf has been involved since the second year. Skiers and snowboarders work in teams of three to raise money in advance of the event and later race in a dual giant slalom race and ski in a mountain challenge competition while working against the clock.
Sugarloaf expects to have 12 teams, all of whom have to raise a minimum of $1000 to participate. Fund-raising is definitely a huge part of this event and monies raised go to continue work in Multiple Sclerosis and living with the condition.
Event coordinator Steve Pierce has been running this event at Sugarloaf for all 17 years and says that he "was fortunate to meet Jimmy Heuga at an early age and believes in his wellness philosophy." Pierce is "interested in continuing Jimmy's message."
The event starts with a short reception on Saturday night where participants have a chance to meet each other as well as a representative from the Heuga center and either an Olympic or US Ski team member.
Sunday morning the groups all meet for a big breakfast and descend upon the mountain for a four-hour scavenger hunt, which is timed. The team's time will come into play when the event is over: faster teams have an advantage when the prizes are handed out.
After lunch, participants go back out onto the racecourse and do their best against the other teams. For this part of the event, some skier's times are handicapped so that beginners can compete with expert skiers. Sunday afternoon ends with an award ceremony where the overall winner will win a trip to Vail to compete in the finals.
For more information on the Heuga center, check out www.heuga.com. To
get your group in on the fun, call Pierce at 237-2396 for more information.
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