The seventh annual Jimmie Heuga ski-a-thon, held yesterday at the Dartmouth Skiway, raised more than $16,000 for Multiple Sclerosis research.
Jimmie Heuga was a bronze-medalist in the 1964 Olympic slalom competition six years before he was diagnosed with MS. He founded the Jimmie Heuga Ski Express program, which raises money for non-profit research organizations that develop health and wellness programs for people afflicted with MS, according to Pat Dixon, co-administrator of the event.
Dixon, who has been planning yesterday’s event for three years, said he felt the College offers a community that could make a difference in MS research and therapy.
“I know that Dartmouth is focused on the United Way, but 25 percent of all money raised at the ski-a-thon stays in the area,” Dixon said.
Ten coed teams competed in two skiing events and fundraising, Dixon said. Only one team, which was made up of members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and Sigma Delta sorority, included Dartmouth students.
The Jimmy Huega Center is SAE’s national charity, said Aaron Brooks ’96, who skied for the team. Huega was a member of SAE in Colorado, Brooks said.
Dixon said the ski-a-thon will become an annual event at the Skiway and that he hopes it will receive more attention from students and members of Dartmouth’s ski teams.
The teams competed in a double run on the giant slalom course and a multi-vertical marathon, which tested how many runs each team could make in a four-hour period.
Each team had to raise a minimum of $1,000 in sponsorship pledges, Dixon said.
Don Cutter, manager of the Dartmouth Skiway said the ski-a-thon ran without complications even though last weekend was the busiest of the season. There were 1,579 people at the Skiway on Saturday and 1,004 on Sunday, Cutter said.
“It was a beautiful day and it went very well,” Cutter said. “It’s a new event so not many people knew about it, so hopefully next year we’ll have a lot more interest.”
The SAE-Sigma Delt team, called the Sigmasonics, placed near the top in the skiing events. But overall the team ended up toward the bottom because of low fundraising.
Jeremy Katz ’95, who organized the fundraising for SAE, said the fraternity is sponsoring a raffle through the end of this week to complete its sponsorship. Prizes include Bolle ski goggles, ski equipment and a stereo, he said.
Brooks said he and the other team members, Alex Lehman ’96 and Cherly Abbott ’96, skied 82 runs during the marathon.
“It got a little tough at the end,” Brooks said.
Lehman kept pace with members of the Killington team, which included members of the National ski team, Brooks said.
He also said he hopes more Dartmouth students will participate in the charity event next year.
“I don’t think enough people knew about it,” Brooks said. “We sent out packets of information to other programming chairs, but we don’t know if they got them.”
Second through fifth place finishers won prizes and all the teams received gift bags and commemorative t-shirts.
The first place prize was an all expenses paid five day ski trip to the national finals held in Vail Colorado Dixon said. Prizes that included ski equipment were award for fundraising.
Several local restaurants, including Cafe Bon Gustio, Peter Christians Tavern, Murphy’s Tavern, The Bagel Basement, Ben and Jerry’s, Subway and 5 Olde Nugget Ally, supplied food and prizes, Dixon said.
Before Heuga was diagnosed with MS in 1970, he was a top racer on the United States Ski Team for ten years. He placed third in the 1967 world championships, Katz said.
Heuga, who choose not to follow the sedentary lifestyle doctors prescribed for MS patients at the time, made physical activity the focus of the Jimmie Heuga Center.